England prop Kyle Sinckler admitted he was still trying to process the emotions of his late call-up to the British & Irish Lions squad after being brought in to replace the injured Andrew Porter on Sunday.
Sinckler had been left “distraught” when left out of Warren Gatland’s original group to tour South Africa this summer, baring his feelings in a television interview last month following his man-of-the-match display for table-topping Bristol against Bath.
The 28-year-old said he had then processed the decision and come to terms with it, only to get a call from Gatland on Sunday morning to give him happier news.
“It’s been crazy,” Sinckler said. “It’s been a month since the announcement, the emotion from not getting selected, doing the interview, the man of the match, to playing for Bristol and then obviously getting selected again, life’s crazy, isn’t it?
“You just have to roll with the punches and try not to get too lost in it. That’s the main thing. When I didn’t get selected it wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, what are they doing?’ I didn’t want to fall into that and feel sorry for myself.
“Now it’s about not losing myself in terms of everyone telling you how great you are. I didn’t get selected in the first place because obviously I wasn’t good enough and that’s what I focus on.”
Sinckler, who toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2017, revealed that Gatland had struggled to get hold of him over the weekend after he changed his phone number, with staff at Bristol seeming to know about the call up before he did.
“When Gats called me he said he’d tried to call on Saturday but he had my wrong number,” Sinckler said. “He had my number from four years ago but I’ve changed it, so they all knew before me.
“When I came in I spoke to Kev Geary (Bristol’s head of athletic performance) and Rory Murray (head of medical services) and they looked at me like, ‘You didn’t know?’ How am I the last to know about this?
“Obviously there were a lot of congratulations but this is sport and we’ve got a job to do this weekend against London Irish to secure first spot. It’s short-lived and you just move on.”
Sinckler, who recalled watching the Lions tour South Africa in 2009 as a fan, said he had tried to use the disappointment of missing out on initial selection as a spur in the final weeks of the Premiership season.
“I was very emotional,” he said. “I just had to harness it and try to put it into my rugby.
“I was distraught, I was so disappointed within myself to not make it to the initial squad, but I got over that.
“I was a fan first, so I would still have been tuning in to watch the series and speak to the boys and be cheering them on.”
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