Kyle Sinckler admits he is relieved to have won the race against time to be fit for the World Cup in England after managing to convince Steve Borthwick his body would not let him down .
Sinckler suffered a torn pectoral muscle in his chest ahead of the final warm-up test against Fiji in August, putting his participation at France 2023 in doubt.
This led to the experienced Dan Cole turning back the years to start the opener against Argentina at tighthead prop, and eight days later Sinckler’s promise to his head coach was fulfilled when he was cleared to play against Japan.
“For me it’s a huge appreciation and gratitude to be back out there because it was kind of a thrill,” said the 30-year-old Bristol native in the front row.
“The scan came back and it didn’t look good but I knew it would be OK. In fairness, I thank the medical staff and Steve for trusting me and saying, “I know my body, I’ll be fine.”
“And thank you to my team who works for me off the field. They really stepped up and helped me and since that game I’ve been on the road to recovery 24/7. So I’m just very grateful to be here and hopefully be able to do my thing again.
“I really wanted to play against Japan and then start against Chile, which was pretty cool.
“I’m just grateful to be here – my second World Cup and my 13th or 12th year as a professional rugby player.”
England’s reliance on Will Stuart at the start of warm-up games in August suggested that Sinckler was no longer the undisputed first choice for the number three jersey – a position he has held since 2018.
His torn pectoral muscle made matters worse, but two games after his return he is expected to start in Lille’s final Pool D game against Samoa on October 7. And he will do this because he knows that the demands on the modern support are greater than ever.
“The only thing I’m not expected to do is kick and take high balls!” The role has changed since I first came on stage,” Sinckler said.
“The way I played tighthead prop, a lot of people said, ‘That’s not how it works,’ because of my ball handling, tips and tracking. I had to work really hard on my scrumming because it didn’t come naturally.
“Now it’s: ‘We want you to make 10 runs, we want you to make 10 tackles, we want you to get two or three scrum penalties, we want you to be strong in kick pursuit, we want you to hit the rucks’. The standard is high and that’s what I expect of myself.”