Kyle Sinckler says he has no recollection of England’s World Cup final defeat after being knocked unconscious early in the match.
Harlequins prop Sinckler collided with team-mate Maro Itoje during a tackle on Makazole Mapimpi in the third minute of South Africa’s 32-12 victory.
He walked off the field after regaining consciousness and watched the remainder of the final from the sidelines.
“I didn’t really know what was going on,” he told the Press Association.
“I can’t remember anything really from the final. They said I came back out, but I can’t remember that.”
Until that point, Sinckler, 26, had enjoyed an outstanding World Cup campaign in which he had scored his first Test try in the quarter-final against Australia.
He says he struggled to come to terms with how his tournament ended but has now “snapped out of it”.
“It took three or four weeks to get over the final. It was dark,” he said. “You go through phases where you’re distraught, feeling sorry for yourself and down in the dumps.”
He added: “It was an innocuous incident which was just meant to be, but it was really, really tough.
“You ask yourself, ‘why me? I’ve trained so hard to get to this moment. I’ve dreamed it, this is my life’.
“But then I snapped out of it, realising that you can either be the guy who is always feeling sorry for yourself or use it as motivation to push on.”
‘If anyone was going to win the World Cup, I’m glad it was Kolisi’
South Africa’s World Cup victory proved an historic moment as Siya Kolisi – the Springboks’ first black captain – lifted the Webb Ellis trophy.
Sinckler visited South Africa last summer with Newcastle Falcons fly-half Tim Swiel and said a chance encounter with Kolisi left him in no doubt their “paths would cross again”.
“We were in a petrol station and it was 11pm. It’s the off-season and I wanted some ice cream and this was the best place to get some ice cream,” said Sinckler.
“Then Siya walks in – it was really random. He had a knee brace on and he was struggling with his injuries. He said, ‘Kyle, what are you doing in Cape Town?
“Siya is such a genuine guy. He took my number and then next day he drove us around and took us to a township.
“He told me about the struggles they have in South Africa and the quota system. In the township we saw kids with no shoes or socks, they had nothing, but were happiest kids in the world.
“He said this is why the system is in place – if it’s not then these kids won’t get an opportunity and that would never have got an opportunity.
“Siya looked after us, we went to a braai [Afrikaans for barbecue] and he dropped me off at the airport when I was leaving. I just had a feeling that our paths would cross again.
“If anyone was going to win the World Cup, I’m glad it was him. He’s such an honourable man.”