Sinck­ler tipped to be ‘sur­prise’ pack­age

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By THOMAS BRANSTON

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

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