Kyle Sinckler is eager to resume hostilities with South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday as he reflects on the cruellest moment of his England career.
Australia were dispatched 32-15 to continue a winning autumn that began with an 11-try rout of Tonga, but it is the finale of the series against the Springboks that has generated the most anticipation for Sinckler.
Less than three minutes into the 2019 World Cup final in Yokohama, the British and Irish Lions prop was knocked unconscious by Maro Itoje’s elbow in an unfortunate collision and his evening was over.
In his absence England were crushed 32-12 and Sinckler admits the event has left its mark.
“I don’t remember the World Cup final. It took me a while to process the incident. You work all your life for that moment but I can’t remember a thing,” Sinckler said.
“I’m not going to lie to you, for two or three weeks after I just sat in my house in a dark room, obviously concussed, trying to process it all.
“It’s tough but you’ve got to roll with the punches and I feel like I’m a better person for that experience and it gave me that extra drive to keep kicking on.
“And I just try to use it as motivation as I’m always very conscious that my job is to inspire kids and anyone – black, white, Asian, man, woman – coming through and anyone who’s going through some tough times.
“It would have been very easy for me to throw my toys out the pram or feel sorry myself, but I feel since then I have tried to kick on and mature my game.”
A full house at Twickenham will see the rivals clash for the first time since South Africa were crowned global champions two years ago.
The finale to the Autumn Nations Series has been circled in Sinckler’s calendar since it was confirmed but it will not be a desire to make amends for the World Cup final that will be spurring him on.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at this fixture and be like ‘I need to be ready for that game’,” Sinckler said.
“I wouldn’t talk about revenge. What’s done is done. Even if we beat them we’re not going to get the World Cup back.
“It’s a huge game and they are world champs for a reason. If we want to be the best then we have to beat the best and we have to test ourselves against the best.
“They are currently the world champions and number one in the world, so we have to bring our A-game, otherwise we are going to be in trouble.”
The Lions slipped to a 2-1 series defeat to South Africa in the summer and head coach Eddie Jones has ruled out attempting to go toe to toe with them knowing they have the muscle to diffuse a less nuanced game-plan.
“We are going to have to play differently to beat them because if you are taking on a heavyweight contest and you are fighting against George Foreman who can whack and whack and whack and whack, you have to do something a bit different,” Jones said.
“We have got four days to come up with something a little bit different. And we will. We will play a little bit different against them.”
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