Bristol boss Pat Lam has reiterated his admiration for Kyle Sinckler and the way he handled being left out of the British and Irish Lions squad.
England prop Sinckler received widespread praise following an emotional television interview he gave immediately after a man-of-the-match performance in Bristol’s Gallagher Premiership victory over Bath on Saturday.
Sinckler spoke with searing honesty about being overlooked for the South Africa-bound group, which had been announced barely 48 hours earlier.
“What it highlighted was how much it means to him, how much it means to our team, and the message he gave was exactly that. It’s inspirational,” Bristol rugby director Lam said.
“People ask me who I admire, and I always say any sportsperson that gets knocked down and comes back. I love that.
“It’s easy when you are selected. It’s more when you face adversity in life and how you bounce back from it.
“From the moment it happened, he was awesome.
“It (Lions selection announcement) was a difficult situation because we were all together and had come out of a meeting and all saw it, but he got on with it and we got on with it.
“The way he conducted himself at training, the way he trained, and then the message he put out on social media in support of the Lions and getting behind them. It was all not only words, but action.
“And to then perform the way that he did (against Bath)… He is a great example.”
Asked if Lam had felt a desire to contact Lions head coach Warren Gatland or forwards coach Robin McBryde over Sinckler’s omission, he added: “No need at all.
“It is nothing at all to do with me. Any coach, that’s the prerogative of the coaching group and selecting group.
“I expect players to be disappointed (in selection), but it is the way they react and how they come back.
“The situation with Kyle is no different from all players and staff here in that everyone has their moment of adversity – whether that is something on the field or something off the field – and you try to create that support network.”
League leaders Bristol, meanwhile, will be watched by a first crowd at Ashton Gate for 14 months when they host Premiership opponents Gloucester next Monday.
The west-country derby – and Newcastle’s Kingston Park appointment with Northampton on Monday – are the Premiership’s first games this season to see crowds amid a gradual easing of restrictions.
Bristol are set to welcome just over 3,000 people for Gloucester’s visit, and Lam said: “It’s massive and something we are all excited by.
“We are ready for a lot more than the 3,000, but this is the beginning stage to eventually (reach) a situation where we will have a few more and a few more.
“It’s another incentive to have that home (Premiership) semi-final. We really want that for our fans as well.”