Eddie Jones insists “jungle tiger” Kyle Sinckler will never be fully tamed as the England prop marked his return from suspension with an all-action display against Italy.
Sinckler made his first appearance of the Guinness Six Nations in Saturday’s 41-18 victory at Twickenham after completing a two-week ban for swearing at a referee, and was named man of the match.
The fiery Bristol prop has worked hard to curb the wilder instincts that resulted in previous scrapes with rugby’s judiciary and Jones has set him the target of becoming the best tighthead in the game.
“There always is a worry,” said Jones. “He’s still a jungle tiger and jungle tigers can always go.
“In the most he behaves like a zoo tiger but still with the fight of a jungle tiger, so we just have to keep managing that.
“I just see him maturing massively as a rugby player. He was a hot-headed individual type with a lot of potential and now what we’re seeing is a maturing, professional, committed player who is producing performances consistently.
“If you look at the way he played for us in the autumn and now the first game back in the Six Nations, he’s going to be close to being the best tighthead in the world and that’s his target, that’s where we want him to get. I’m really pleased with his progress.”
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The trigger for Sinckler’s outburst at referee Karl Dickson when Bristol beat Exeter in the Gallagher Premiership last month was the official’s decision not to punish a tackle by Luke Cowan-Dickie that the Lions front row felt to be dangerous.
Turning once again to an organisation called ‘Saviour World’, a life-coaching programme for men, Sinckler quickly looked inwards as he came to terms with his suspension.
“Obviously there was massive frustration at the time, but once I broke it down and was speaking to my mentor at Saviour World I had to take full responsibility for my actions,” Sinckler said.
“The easiest thing I could have done is blame externally and look for excuses. But I hold my hands up, I understand where I went wrong. I take full responsibility.
“I came to the understanding of how much of an inspiration you are to the younger generation and how much they do look up to you. You just have to be very, very careful.
“I guess the easiest thing to say would be that it was heat of the moment stuff, it was a dangerous tackle etc. etc., but I have to be accountable for my actions.
“I was frustrated at the time, but then as soon as the hearing decision was made I cracked on and I put a plan in place with my own personal team, just got my head down and grafted.
“I just loved being out there against Italy. I truly love the game. Hopefully people saw how much it means to me just to play rugby.
“I still think I have a lot more growth. I’m nowhere near the player I want to be and there’s a lot of hard work to be done.”