LONDON – England have no doubts over the temperament of Kyle Sinckler after Wales coach Warren Gatland said the prop was an “emotional time-bomb”.
Wales face England in a potential Six Nations title decider in Cardiff on Saturday, with Gatland’s contribution to the pre-match ‘mind games’ a suggestion that Sinckler had problems controlling his temper.
The New Zealander insisted Wales would not be going out of their way to wind-up Sinckler, although the implication of his remarks seemed clear enough.
Scott Wisemantel, England’s assistant coach, responded by saying on Friday: “If they target him, then they’re leaving 14 other blokes to do their jobs, so good luck.”
Sinckler was involved in an exchange of words with Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony during England’s opening win in Dublin, and last time out received a ticking off from referee Nigel Owens for slapping France forward Arthur Iturria.
Sinckler also served a seven-week ban for making contact with the eye area of an opponent on club duty in 2017.
The 25-year-old Londoner has never been shy of trying to unsettle opponents on the field with verbal taunts, but a relaxed Wisemantel said: “We saw in the Australia game during the autumn that he has a quick wit and can refocus very quickly. It’s probably Warren trying to stir the pot a bit.
“On the edge is the way he plays the game. Do you really want to take that away from someone? I don’t think so. He knows how to control himself, and I don’t think it’s an issue at all.”
Countdown to #WALvENG ⏱
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 22, 2019
Gatland, who coached Harlequins front-rower Sinckler on the British and Irish Lions’ 2017 tour of New Zealand, said on Thursday: “I think the thing with Kyle, there is no doubt he’s a very good player in terms of his carrying, scrummaging and work-rate.
“There is a challenge sometimes with his temperament. He’s aware of it. Other players are aware of it. We’ve already seen in the Six Nations that he has been involved in a couple of incidents.
“Hopefully, we don’t get dragged into that on Saturday,” Gatland said before adding: “Emotionally, he can be a bit of a time-bomb. I am not saying anything that people aren’t aware of.”
"It’s all about Wales.it’s the biggest game they’re going to play in their lives."
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 21, 2019
But Gatland insisted: “Look, we won’t be going out there trying to antagonise him, because that’s not in our make-up. We will just go out there and play.”