Kyle Sinckler admits his relief at winning a race against time to be fit for England’s World Cup having succeeded in convincing Steve Borthwick that his body would not let him down.
Sinckler tore the pectoral muscle in his chest during the build-up to the final warm-up Test against Fiji in August, plunging his participation in France 2023 into doubt.
It resulted in veteran Dan Cole rolling back the years to start the opener against Argentina at tighthead prop and, eight days later, Sinckler’s promise to his head coach was honoured when he was given the all clear to face Japan.
“For me there’s a massive amount of appreciation and gratitude to be back out there because it was kind of touch and go,” the 30-year-old Bristol front row said.
“The scan came back and it didn’t look great but I knew it would be fine. Fair play to the medical staff and Steve for trusting me and to say: ‘I know my body, I am going to be fine’.
“And thank you to my team who work for me off the field. They have really stepped up and helped me and I have been on recovery 24/7 since that game so I am just very grateful to be here and hopefully get to do my thing again.
“I was keen to play against Japan and then to get the start against Chile, that was pretty cool.
“I’m just grateful to be here – my second World Cup and my 13th or 12th year playing professional rugby.”
England’s reliance on Will Stuart early in August’s warm-up fixtures suggested that Sinckler was no longer undisputed first choice for the number three jersey – a position he has held since 2018.
His torn pec exacerbated the situation but, two games into his return, he is expected to start the final Pool D match against Samoa in Lille on October 7. And he will do so knowing the demands on the modern prop are greater than ever.
“The only thing that is not expected from me is to kick and take high balls! The role has changed since I first came on the scene,” Sinckler said.
“The way I played tighthead prop, a lot of people said: ‘You can’t do it that way,’ because of my ball-carrying, tips, chasing. I had to really work hard on my scrummaging because that didn’t come naturally.
“Now it’s: ‘We want you to make 10 carries, we want you to make 10 tackles, we want you to get two or three scrum penalties, we want you to be strong in the kick chase, we want you to hit the rucks’. The standard is high and that is what I expect of myself.”