Kyle Sinckler is rediscovering the form that made him a mainstay in England’s pack after admitting he has been operating at only 20 per cent since joining Bristol.
Sinckler was a heavyweight contributor to one of the great defensive displays in red rose history when Ireland were flattened 18-7 at Twickenham in the Autumn Nations Cup on Saturday.
Twenty tackles including one dominant hit, combined with an imposing shift at the scrum, built on the foundations laid against Italy three weeks earlier and a solid appearance as a replacement in the clash with Georgia.
The 27-year-old Lions prop hopes it signals a turnaround, having found the previous six months a challenge following his move from boyhood club Harlequins to Bristol.
“If I am being honest with myself, I haven’t been at my best. I’d probably say I’ve been functioning at 20 per cent of my best at Bristol,” Sinckler said.
“It’s probably been hard for me more off the field and I think in the future I’ll reap the benefits of what I’ve done.
“Before I never really understood, when players sign and they move to clubs, why they’ve not hit form.
“I guess for me, my issues have been I had to move in the middle of lockdown and I haven’t seen my mum since June. I haven’t seen any family.
“I’ve obviously been in Bristol and basically we’ve been on our own little lockdown anyway because you can’t go out – if you get coronavirus and bring it back to the team that’s not going to be good.
“It’s just been a big change and I think I appreciate everyone there that’s been massively patient with me and I’m just excited to get back some form.
“And then when I get back to Bristol, whenever that may be, I want to try and do the fans proud.
“But it’s been a great lesson for me in terms of patience. Obviously at Bristol I want to get the ball and do my thing, but it’s a whole different system. I have to be patient.
“I’ve started from when I was at Quins and I’ve been there since I was 12 years old with a lot of credit in the bank.
“I’ve gone to Bristol and it’s like starting again from zero, and I can only give thanks to Pat Lam and the coaches that have massively helped me.”
Next up for Eddie Jones’ Six Nations champions is the pursuit of an eighth successive win when they face Wales in Llanelli, with Sinckler believing the best is yet to come this autumn.
“Each week you just have to adjust and adapt. That’s what Test match rugby is about, adapting to what’s been thrown at you,” he said.
“Everyone’s got a plan but in the heat of battle everything can change in a second. We adapted really well against Ireland.
“The pleasing thing is we know we’re not even scratching the surface. We’ve so much left in the tank.”