Daily Mail

Sinckler out to put All Blacks to the sword again

- By CHRIS FOY Rugby Correspond­ent

KYLE SINCKLER has revealed how a samurai sword-wielding eddie Jones inspired england’s weary players to their epic win over the all Blacks at the last World Cup.

The national coach explained in a book that he used a sword bought from an antique shop in Tokyo to chop up a tray of kiwi fruit in front of his squad, to symbolise how he wanted them to hit new Zealand with extreme aggression in the 2019 semi-final.

The ploy worked as england cut down their vaunted opponents with a defensive onslaught, after slicing through them with an early try to set up an historic 19- 7 triumph which went straight into english rugby folklore.

as one of those in the current squad was on duty for that momentous occasion in Yokohama, Bristol prop sinckler has recalled how a meeting the previous weekend transforme­d the mood to one of near- certainty that they would prevail against the holders and tournament favourites.

it was a masterpiec­e of motivation­al theatre from Jones.

‘We beat australia in the quarterfin­al in oita, then we had a team meeting on the sunday which is very strange,’ said sinckler. ‘normally, sunday is a day off, recovery — you never really see eddie.

‘He called a players’ meeting at nine in the morning. everyone was like, “Jesus, what’s happened here? Has anyone done anything?!”

‘i’ll never forget that meeting. eddie set out our game-plan — putting pressure on them, going at them, walking towards the danger. The message was that is one of the things they pride themselves on but we are going to go for them. Usually on a sunday, you wake up thinking, “oh my god, how am i going to do this again?” But after that meeting i felt, “We’ve got this”. it was so special.

‘it was a surreal experience, as we had no doubt after that meeting we were going to win and it was the only game in my rugby career where everything went to plan. everything eddie said would happen, happened.

‘We were so dominant. all the momentum was with us, the gameplan was on point, they did exactly what we anticipate­d them to do, so it was a special day for english rugby, but for rugby as a whole. it was one of the best games ever.’

Before kick- off against the all Blacks, england set the tone for what followed by standing in a V formation to face the Haka, with captain owen Farrell staring down the opposition from the tip of the V and Joe Marler crossing the halfway line to eyeball the Kiwis. it was a statement of intent and, crucially, england delivered on it.

When asked what it meant, sinckler, who is set to face the Haka again at Twickenham on saturday, joked: ‘You better play well! When you’re confident, you want to do those sorts of things and show the opposition you don’t want to back down, but it’s easy to do that and not back it up on the field. How many times have we seen teams walk towards the Haka and new Zealand put 50 points on them? We felt if we were going to do that, we needed to back it up.

‘For me, the Haka is a part of rugby. i don’t see it as intimidati­ng, i see it as an honour to be involved in such an occasion, playing for my country. i especially feel like that after the last six months i’ve had with my injury.

‘To be out there, pain-free, playing again and getting back to where i know i can get to, i’ve just got ultimate gratitude for that.’

 ?? INPHO ?? Line of duty: Owen Farrell faces up to the Haka
INPHO Line of duty: Owen Farrell faces up to the Haka

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