England star opens up on Eddie's samurai sword and kiwi fruit stunt
SPOTLIGHT: England prop Kyle Sinckler heads into this Saturday’s Test with New Zealand buoyed by the memory of how coach Eddie Jones’s novel use of a samurai sword and a kiwi fruit paved the way for a remarkable win at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
In 117 years of matches between the sides, England have won just eight out of 42 Tests and a mere two out of 17 since 2004.
But their last meeting ended in an outstanding 19-7 win for England in a World Cup semifinal three years ago.
The victory was arguably even more emphatic than the scoreline suggested and Sinckler, who played in the game, said Jones had laid the foundation for that success in unusual fashion a week earlier.
Veteran Australian coach Jones, addressing the England squad, used an authentic Japanese samurai sword bought from an antique shop to slice a kiwi fruit in half before announcing: “There you go boys, see how we do it now?”
Sinckler, recalling the build-up to Jones’s striking display, said: “We played Australia in the quarterfinal in Oita – I scored a try – and then we had a team meeting on the Sunday which is very strange. Normally Sunday is a day off, we do recovery and you never really see Eddie.
“But he called a players’ meeting at 9.00 am. Everyone was like ‘what’s happened here? Has anyone done anything!?’ And he set the tone for the week.
“I’ll never forget that meeting in terms of how we set the week up with our game plan – talking about putting pressure on them, going at them, walking towards the danger,” he added after last Saturday’s win over Japan.
Bristol Bears’ Sinckler, 29, started all but one of his country’s games in the tournament and has now amassed more than half a centry of Test appearances.
“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,” Sinckler told reporters.
“Literally everything Eddie said would happen, happened. Usually on a Sunday you wake up going ‘how am I going to do this again?’, but after that meeting I felt ‘we’ve got this’. It was so special.”
Sinckler has featured in five Tests against New Zealand, including three for the British and Irish Lions in 2017.
“What’s interesting about them is that when people watch the All Blacks, they say ‘great play, loads of offloads, great running game with Reiko Ioane, Caleb Clarke, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga’,” he said.
“They’re great ball in hand players, but they’re also unbelievably physical – really good scrum, great set-piece. Put your head in a breakdown and they’re absolutely clearing you out.
“If they need to play wide, they can. If they need to play through and use their set-piece, they can.
“That was a real eye-opener for me. They can do the flashy stuff but the nuts and bolts of their game are also very impressive.”