Sinckler tipped to be ‘surprise’ package
JASON Leonard admits he was ‘surprised’ by Warren Gatland’s selection of rookie Harlequins tighthead Kyle Sinckler as there are aspects of his game that need working on.
Sinckler made his 100th appearance for Harlequins in their final day defeat to Northampton but has appeared only as a bench man by England.
However former Lions tighthead Leonard says Sinckler’s attitude is such that he could well force his way into Test reckoning.
Leonard, 48, told The
Rugby Paper: “I think most of the players were pretty much justified to be selected, but a surprise for me was Kyle Sinckler to a certain degree.
“We’ve seen him come off the bench for England, and he’s a talented young man and very dynamic, but he needs to work on his set piece more to become a consistent player.
“He’s the sort of kid who never stops grafting though so he might be a surprise selection for the Tests.”
World Cup winner Leonard admits there is a difference in representing your country and the red jersey of the Lions, for whom he toured three times and won five Test caps.
“It’s a huge thing. With England when you put on that white jersey you think about your friends, your family, coaches and teachers who have all made sacrifices for you along the way.
“With the Lions it’s slightly different because you are already an international player.
“When you put on that red jersey for the Lions you want to do the jersey proud because you’re thinking about the players who have previously worn it and you are talking about some real rugby legends. You want to make sure you do the jersey justice, you want to make sure you do the players that have worn that jersey before you proud and live up to that legend.”
Despite the odds against the Lions in New Zealand, Leonard remains upbeat.
“The Lions squad looks pretty strong but there’s always injuries.
“It’s such a brutal tour and they are going to the hardest place in the world to play rugby.
“It’s no secret, out of the 100 odd years that the Lions have been running, they have only won a handful of Tests so it shows you how tough it will be.
“So it’s about hitting the ground running and coming together quickly, that is the biggest challenge. If they do that then they are in with a shout. Hopefully they can do us proud.”
Past and present: Leonard and Sinckler