Kyle Sinckler says support for international players ‘could be a lot better’

Kyle Sinckler of England looks on during the Six Nations Rugby match between England and Italy at Twickenham Stadium on February 12, 2023 in London, England
Kyle Sinckler has spoken publically in support of England team-mate Owen Farrell - Getty Images/Alex Davidson

Kyle Sinckler, the Bristol and England prop, believes more players could follow Owen Farrell’s lead and step back from international duty and has called for more support for players.

The England captain announced last week that he would miss the 2024 Six Nations to “prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing”, with no date put on his return to the international fold. Since Farrell’s announcement, the World Cup final television match official, Tom Foley, became the second English official after Wayne Barnes to step away from Test rugby.

Now Sinckler, the 68-times-capped tighthead, has called for more support to help players cope with the pressure and expectation of representing England. Telegraph Sport last week revealed exclusively that the Rugby Football Union had opted for part-time psychological support for the men’s national team during this year’s World Cup in France.

“The support system could 100 per cent [be better], from all over,” Sinckler told the BBC.

“Definitely it is a privilege to play for your country and it comes with a lot of responsibility, but I think the support system around that could be a lot better.”

“The same people that will be saying to you one minute that you are not doing so well, are the same people when it is going well who are singing your praises. So it comes part and parcel with the job,” Sinckler added.

“If I’m being honest it’s only the beginning.

“If you look at the workload the players go through, especially the international players... Guys have been in [World Cup] camp for five months, get a week’s rest, and then come back in and are playing week-in and week-out.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to be honest [if more players did the same as Farrell].

“Professional sport is a pressure cooker, but when you’re playing for England it’s more heightened. Then when you are the captain, and the fly-half, even more so. So I am surprised but not surprised.

“Knowing Faz, for him to actually say: ‘Look, I’m not right’, then something must be up because that guy will go to battle no matter what. Hopefully he gets the help he needs and the rest he deserves.”

Owen Farrell, Kyle Sinckler and Stuart Hogg arrive for training
Farrell Sinckler have played together for both england and the Lions - Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Danny Care, a former club-mate of Sinckler and a team-mate during rugby’s blue-riband event, echoed the prop’s concerns and called on all future World Cup participants to receive three weeks of mandatory rest after the global tournament.

“Regarding players needing more support and help, yeah [I agree],” Care told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast. “No one really wants to say they’re struggling with anything. I spent the last five months with Owen and I know he was hurting... when he got the red card and not knowing whether he’d be able to play in the World Cup.

“We would walk anywhere, in Paris, and everyone knows him. We were fine, we could walk and have a coffee, but wherever he went, people wanted 20 selfies with him. He’s the most famous England rugby player at the minute.

“There could be more support. I know the RPA is there for us, but I think if you go and do a World Cup that’s as intense as that then you shouldn’t be seen in your club for three weeks - mentally, as much as anything... You have to have a recharge straightaway. You’ll see the benefits of that down the line.

“Hopefully clubs take note of what Owen’s doing and maybe offer more support.”