England must face down a Samoa side that has been reinforced by rugby’s updated eligibility rule but Kyle Sinckler still views the change as an improvement to the game.
Tighthead prop Sinckler is poised to start England’s final World Cup group match in Lille on Saturday when he could go toe to toe with fellow Bristol forwards Steven Luatua and Chris Vui.
Luatua won 15 caps for New Zealand from 2013 to 2016 but his Test career was revived when in 2022, World Rugby allowed players to transfer national allegiance upon completing a three-year stand down period.
Former All Blacks Lima Sopoaga and Charlie Faumuina are also in Samoa’s World Cup squad, while their fly-half Christian Leali’ifano represented Australia at Japan 2019.
Tonga have benefited as well from a rule that extends the international careers of talented Islanders through the availability of another of Sinckler’s Bristol team-mates in Charles Piutau, amongst others.
“Knowing Stevie personally, I know that playing for Samoa means a huge amount to him. Charles, because he made the decision to go back and play for Tonga,” Sinckler said.
“They’re massively appreciative to have played for the All Blacks but the sense that I got from them was that they wanted to give something back to their community and where they’re from.
“Look at the Tonga game against South Africa and how competitive they were and look at Samoa in the World Cup and how competitive they have been.
“It’s nothing but good for rugby in my opinion, those guys going back and strengthening those so-called tier two nations. It doesn’t feel like that when you play against these teams!
“The likes of Charles, Steven Luatua, Charlie Faumuina and Christian Leali’ifano are all world-class players. It’s good to see them playing and it’s good for rugby.”
Sinckler was welcomed with open arms by Luatua and Vui when he joined Bristol from Harlequins in 2020 but the all-action front row knows the friendship will be put on ice at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.