- Loosehead heralds “incredible achievement” of series win
- “This has been an opportunity and I think I’ve made the most of it” – Corbisiero
Alex Corbisiero believes he and his teammates did the British and Irish Lions tradition proud with a clinical performance against Australia on Saturday to bring them a first series win in 16 years.
The England and Northampton Saint loosehead was a leading figure in the tourists’ 41-16 victory, latching on to a pass from scrum half Mike Phillips to score the first of four tries after just 90 seconds before enjoying a fantastic shift at the all-important set piece.
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In fact, Corbisiero’s scrummaging was instrumental in allowing the Lions to open up a 19-3 lead within 24 minutes – French referee Romain Poite confirming the dominance by sending Wallaby opposite number Ben Alexander to the sin bin following a string of infringements.
But rather than bask in the glory of such a special individual display, the 24-year-old preferred to herald the collective accomplishment of securing a first successful Test series since 1997 – especially impressive given the fighting qualities of Australia, who battled back to within three points just after half-time.
“It’s an incredible achievement,” Corbisiero said. “We’re proud and excited and it’s still taking a bit of time to sink in. We tried to approach it as just another game but we knew there was no tomorrow – a lot of us were never going to have this opportunity ever again.
“We just made the most of the opportunities on offer. Credit to Australia – they came back into the game after we took our chances early on.
“We showed a little bit of poor discipline and they clawed their way back. But we were able to re-group and put our foot on the pedal and that’s how we ran away with it at the end.”
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Modestly attributing his early try to merely being “at the right place at the right time”, Corbisiero admitted that he needed to ward off over-excitement in light of the “hard graft” that was required over the remainder of the game.
And while admitting the scrum penalties were crucial in garnering momentum on such a “close, intense” occasion, he outlined some steadfast team unity as an essential facet of the brilliant result at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
“We’ve really shown what the Lions is all about – we’ve come together and really put our hearts and souls into this. We’ve made sure we were one team – we weren’t Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English or anything.
“The fans embraced us in the exact same way and the support was incredible. To go out on such a defining note proves anyone who doubts the Lions wrong and it’s so prestigious that it should last forever.”
At his post-match press conference, Lions head coach Warren Gatland pointed out that Corbisiero would have been his man of the match, suggesting also that the prop had been unlucky to miss out on inclusion in the initial 37-man party.
However, after joining up with the Lions from Argentina last month – where he had been set to play in England's first Test against the Pumas in Salta – as an injury replacement for Cian Healy, he has truly made his mark on a momentous sporting feat.
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“I never had any issue with selection,” Corbisiero added. “I think at the time when the squad was announced I had been injured for four or five months – I really hadn’t had the chance to put a marker down and prove what I was capable of doing.
“The other guys were playing really well and I just wanted to get back to where I wanted to be. The opportunity came and I just wanted to make the most of it.
“For someone like Gats to say that means a lot – I have a lot of respect for him and he’s poured his heart and soul into this. He has been a pleasure to play for.
“I saw Cian Healy when he left and he said ‘all the best’. You don’t wish an injury on anyone but it’s been an opportunity and I think I’ve made the most of it.”