British and Irish Lions selection bolter Kyle Sinckler has hailed triple Six Nations Grand Slam winner Adam Jones as his rugby saviour.
Sinckler credits his Harlequins front-row colleague Jones, who won 95 caps for Wales and played in five Lions Tests across two tours, with being a “coach, mentor and father figure” to him.
And the 24-year-old England international tighthead prop is keen to underline his burgeoning reputation and the education in front-row play that Jones has given him when the Lions arrive in New Zealand.
“When you have guys like that around you day in, day out, it shows you what it takes to get to the top of the game,” Sinckler said.
“He has taken me under his wing 100 per cent, from the first day I met him in the sports hall at pre-season training.
“He has been a massive help to me — probably changed my life, to be honest, in the way I see things.
“He is a top bloke, a good man. Looking back now, when you are a young player, you want to play. Then you see Adam Jones come in to the club, and you are probably not going to play as much.
“But Conor O’Shea [former Quins rugby director] realised at the time that I probably needed someone who had been there and done it.
“From my first day, Adam has been unreal. He’s been like a coach to me, even though he is a player.
“He will be a top coach in no time at all. He’s been a coach, a mentor, a father figure to me — and a headmaster when he is telling me off! He has been everything to me, and Conor made the right decision in bringing him in. He has changed my career.”
(Photo by Visionhaus/Corbis via Getty Images)
Sinckler, who once played fullback for Battersea Ironsides Rugby Club, has powered through the ranks this season, winning eight England caps as a replacement and showcasing his power in set-pieces and around the pitch.
He has already shone in Lions training during their opening pre-tour camp in Wales, and a starting place could be just around the corner as head coach Warren Gatland formulates his plans for the New Zealand tour opener on June 3.
“I have watched all the Living with the Lions [DVDs], and now I am actually in it, massively, massively privileged and honoured,” Sinckler added.
“All the great players are always trying to get better. I want to try and emulate that. Good is never good enough — you can always get better.
“I am nowhere near where I want to be, and there is so much more I want to accomplish and achieve in my career. It is good at the moment, but I have to work even harder now.
“If I keep sticking around with the likes of Adam Jones, Joe Marler, James Horwill and Dan Cole — probably being a bit of a pest to those guys, but I would be a bit of an idiot if I did not want to learn and kind of be a sponge and take everything they’ve got, because you are not doing this forever, are you?
“I went on the England tour of Australia last year, and I remember thinking ‘yeah, I’ve got my chance’. I thought I worked quite hard, and then you get into the Eddie Jones regime and you do not know what working hard is until you get there.
“My body fat was too high — I was probably eight or nine kilos heavier than I am now — and I just had to sit down and say ‘look, my career can go one of two ways here’. I was a bit frustrated because I did not get capped in Australia, but looking back on it, it was probably the right decision from Eddie.
“I just had to re-evaluate everything, look after my nutrition, my professionalism, my set-piece stuff, my fitness, my body language, everything.
“As you get older, you become a bit smarter. When I was younger, I would fly around trying to hit everyone. I probably didn’t make many friends, but because I was the younger kid on the block you have to try and get some respect because you are not going to play at the weekend. Training was like a match for me.
“I still give it my all in training, but it’s different now. Everyone is your mate, and you don’t want to hurt your team-mates. You save that aggression for the weekend, because why am I going to hurt my team-mate when I need him then?”
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