- Alex Corbisiero ready to rekindle South Africa challenge
- Injuries now behind me says London Irish loose head prop
It has been a stop-start year for Alex Corbisiero due to injury but after being called up to Stuart Lancaster’s squad ahead of Saturday’s clash against South Africa the London Irish prop says he is fit and ready to take on the Springboks.
The 24-year-old has already faced the southern hemisphere giants once this year when England toured South Africa in June but was ruled out with a knee injury after playing just 24 minutes during England’s second Test defeat at Ellis Park.
That injury has kept him out for the start of the domestic season, but he returned to start London Irish's last two games in recent weeks. Corbisiero also missed the end of Irish’s 2011/12 season after undergoing a bicep operation in April, a demoralising time considering he had started all five of England’s matches in the RBS 6 Nations and was rapidly establishing himself as a solid operator in the No.1 shirt.
"I had a really good run in Six Nations and in the few years building up to that and was completely injury free,” he said. “Then I ended last season with the bicep injury and then in the summer I had the knee problem so it was bad time for injuries for me. I have just focused on what I can control and focused on getting everything right and getting back as healthy as possible.
“Now injury-wise I feel pretty good, the knee has been quiet but it has been tough. It’s never easy coming back from injury but I have had two games for London Irish and it’s good to get almost two full games under my belt and get the experience of being back out there. I feel good and I feel comfortable and ready to push on.”
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Corbisiero’s return to fitness has come just at the right time for Lancaster after Joe Marler picked up a knee injury of his own against Australia last Saturday, returning as one of six changes to the starting line-up.
Corbisiero’s experience against South Africa in the summer may have been short-lived but the three Test Series gave him enough of an insight to know that Saturday’s game will be physical and will require the team to play well for the full 80 minutes.
“They are very physical and that’s a real strength of theirs,” he said. “They are confrontational; they are direct, physical and will come at you over and over again. It will be a tough challenge and we are fully prepared for that and aware of that.
“We need to start well, get out of the blocks early, play some good rugby, get a good platform set-piece wise and start to build a score against them. We need to have 80 good minutes of rugby as we showed in summer we can play well against them but we did it in patches and let ourselves down in 20 minute spells. If we can get it right for 80 minutes then we have a very good chance this weekend.”
And if England training is anything to go by Corbisiero is ready to return, given Leicester Tigers tighthead Dan Cole provides a formidable scrummaging opponent who gives no quarter.
“I have been training with the team and scrumming against Dan Cole, one of best tightheads in the world. If you are not equipped there you will get found out at this level. I feel comfortable now though and I'm ready to go."