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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 19 March, 2019
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Rugby nause Sinckler and Furlong are the new breed of Lions props

The 24-year-old England international is something of a Lions speech expert.

Murray Kinsella reports from Auckland

TIGHTHEAD PROPS AREN’T generally known for their kicking skills but Lions pair Kyle Sinckler and Tadhg Furlong have been in flying form with the boot in recent weeks.

While the Lions’ third tighthead, the more old-school Dan Cole, hasn’t been joining in, Sinckler and Furlong have been in fierce competition after training.

Sam Warbuton, Kyle Sinckler, Rory Best and Joe Marler Sinckler starts at tighthead this weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We get on,” says Sinckler of Furlong. “We’re always having a laugh, a bit of a jolly, kicking competitions too – I don’t think Coley is too interested in that. We’re probably a bit similar.”

Indeed, Sinckler and Furlong are both part of the new breed of Test front row. While they both take major pride in their set-piece work, strong carrying, ruck work and explosive defence, this pair are capable of more.

Furlong has been lauded for his high-quality handling but Sinckler is capable of mixing it up in that regard too.

“I’d definitely like to think so,” says the 24-year-old Englishman. “If you’ve watched me play I definitely bring more to a party than just holding up a scrum and hitting rucks.

That’s my game: getting the ball in my hands, carrying, making my tackles, being a nuisance around the breakdown.

“You’ve got to be controlled in it as well. It’s not about you, it’s about the team. If my job on the weekend is to hold up the scrum, be dominant in that area of the game and do what’s right for the team, that’s fine by me. It’s not about me.”

Sinckler has racked up eight England caps so far in his career but Warren Gatland and his Lions coaching staff clearly saw enough there and in his club outings with Harlequins to be impressed by the tighthead’s all-round game.

Having been in the Lions camp from the very beginning, while others were involved in play-off rugby, Sinckler starts for Gatland’s side against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday and could surprise a few people.

Kyle Sinckler and Tadhg Furlong Sinckler and Furlong have hit it off in Lions camp. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Similarly to Furlong again, Sinckler is a character and he brings about a few laughs recounting how he is “a bit of a rugby nause.”

Last week, Sinckler was rooming with Ireland hooker Rory Best and he tested the Ulsterman’s patience.

“I’m pretty sure Rory is tired of hearing my voice,” explains Sinckler. “He shared a room with me for about two or three days and I’m always asking him: ‘What was Marcus Horan like? What was John Hayes like? Jerry Flannery, what was he like? Eddie O’Sullivan, what was he like?’

“I just want to learn, ‘What was Paul O’Connell like?’ etc. He’s just there looking at me like, ‘Really? It’s 12am and we’ve got to get up in a few hours and you’re asking me about the 2007 Six Nations?’

“I’m always trying to learn, I’d be a bit of a fool if I didn’t ask these guys questions, watch them and hang around them, to see how they work day in, day out.”

Sinckler is a Lions nerd too and has watched and re-watched the documentaries of previous tours, soaking up every word of every famous speech.

He has a few favourites, including Jim Telfer’s powerful speech to the Lions’ tourists in 1997.

“‘This is our Everest!’” says Sinckler with a smile. “I think I’ve watched that about 100 times. I remember watching that as a kid all the time, him sitting down talking to Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Tom Smith, Paul Wallace.

Kyle Sinckler Sinckler is enthusiastic about wearing the Lions' jersey. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I know the Paul O’Connell one from 2013, I know the Jim Telfer one, I know the Warren Gatland one from 2009 third Test. I like the Phil Vickery one with Andrew Sheridan before the first Test.

“What was he saying: ‘You listening to me?’ and then he headbutts him and then Graham Rowntree is looking at them and thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’”

Sinckler’s energy and enthusiasm for his opportunity to wear the Lions shirt bursts through and while he has a job on his hands attempting to shove past Furlong and Cole in the Lions’ pecking order, he’s up for the task.

Getting psyched up for this challenge will be easy for Sinckler.

“It’s not hard, mate. I’m just excited to go out there, play rugby and hit people for a living. I don’t need to get excited to play rugby. I can’t wait to get out there to train this afternoon. I don’t need a massive rev up. I’m ready to go.”

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Murray Kinsella

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