Bristol Bears and England front-row Kyle Sinckler believes more players could follow in Owen Farrell’s footsteps by opting to take a break from the international game.
Farrell will not be in action in the upcoming Six Nations after he announced last week that he is taking a break from Test rugby to prioritise his and his family’s mental health.
Will not be surprised if more players take a break
“If I’m being honest it’s only the beginning,” he told the BBC. “If you look at the workload the players go through, especially the international players. Guys have been in [World Cup] camp for five months, get a week’s rest, and then come back in and playing week-in and week-out.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to be honest [if more players did the same].”
Sinckler said that although representing your country “is a privilege”, he feels it’s imperative that measures are implemented to avoid a situation like Farrell’s in the future.
“The support system could 100% [be better], from all over,” said Sinckler, who has won 68 caps for England and also represented the British & Irish Lions in six Tests.
“Definitely it is a privilege to play for your country and it comes with a lot of responsibility, but I think the support system around that could be a lot better.
“At the end of the day, as a player you kind of have to take the rough with the smooth.
“The same people that will be saying to you one minute that you are not doing so well, are the same people when it is going well are singing your praises. So it comes part and parcel with the job.
“The main thing is having the support system in place because only the players who have been through it, and who are in it, actually understand the pressure that goes with performing week-in-week-out.
“Not just in the games, but in training, and the pressure to get your body right and to get your mind right.
“Because at the end of the day, the boys care. Boys want to do the best for their country. No-one wants to go out there on the field and wants to make a mistake or have a bad performance.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with the fans, I just think the support for the players, in general, if I am being blunt and brutally honest, could be a lot better.”
The 30-year-old admitted to being caught off guard by Farrell’s announcement but said it did not come as a total shock to him.
“Your health is the number one priority”
“Professional sport is a pressure cooker, but obviously when you’re playing for England it’s even more heightened, and when you are playing for England in a World Cup even more, and then when you are the captain, and the fly-half, even more so,” he added.
“So I am surprised but not surprised. I will say it is funny to see all the support Owen is getting, but in the same breath those people are the ones who have said certain things about him in the media. So it is quite funny to sit back and see it play out.
“In terms of Owen, he has got to do what is best for him. He’s an experienced man, he’s got a family, and at the end of the day your health is the number one priority.
“Knowing Faz, I’ve got a massive amount of respect for him, I’ve been playing with him for the last eight, nine, ten years and for him to actually say ‘look, I’m not right’ then something must be up because that guy will go to battle no matter what.
“At the end of the day he has to do what is best for him. On a personal note, I back him and hopefully he gets the help he needs and the rest he deserves.”