Alex ready for action

Alex Corbisiero was supposed to be propping up the English scrum in Salta on Saturday, but instead he was winging his way from South America to Australia following an SOS from the British & Irish Lions. [more]

Alex ready for action

Alex Corbisiero was supposed to be propping up the English scrum in Salta on Saturday, but instead he was winging his way from South America to Australia following an SOS from the British & Irish Lions.

His reward for spending 40 hours travelling from Salta to Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires to Santiago, Santiago to Auckland, Auckland to Sydney and then Sydney to Brisbane came immediately in the shape of a call-up to start for the Lions against the Combined Country XV on Tuesday.

Having spent so much of the past 12 months on the sidelines with knee problems, the England loose head is hoping his Lions debut in Newcastle will be a lucky 13th game of the past year and put him on the path to a potential Test berth.

“It wasn’t an easy trip – five flights and a bit of a journey. But I’m not complaining at all because I would have taken 10 flights to take this incredible opportunity,” said Corbisiero.

“I was in Salta and I was preparing for the Test with England. We had a day off and Stuart Lancaster said he wanted to have word. He informed me there had been an injury with the Lions and that I was going to be on my way.

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“I thought, ‘that’s a bit surreal’ and within 24 hours I was on my way from Salta. I left midday on Thursday and got here midday on Saturday – I’m over the moon about it.

“There is a massive opportunity to play myself into the Test team, but there is a lot of rugby to be played between now and the Tests. I’m just grateful for the opportunity that has presented itself.

“I’m looking forward to putting my hand up and if it comes, it comes. But if it doesn’t I’m still looking forward to trying to make the most of this incredible opportunity.

“Everyone here is striving for a Test spot and I am not different to that. If I play well it is a realistic option but I have to play well and that starts on Tuesday.”

Corbisiero was brought from South America and Scotland’s Ryan grant was called-up from South Africa by Lions head coach Warren Gatland to plug the gaps created by tour ending injuries to Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins.

Now the battle for the loose head spot in the Lions front row against the Qantas Wallabies is a shoot-out between England’s Mako Vunipola and the two replacements. Grant will be on the bench in Newcastle.

“I’ve only played 12 games in the last 12 months and I feel very good physically. It has been a frustrating year of injuries for me,” said Corbisiro.

“There has been nothing I could do about it – you just try to control the controlables and that was trying to get right. I was patient, got the knee right and got back to full fitness.

“I feel fresh, ready and match fit and I’ve had no issues or reaction with the knee. I’m glad I was patient with it. You always have your ups and downs and being injured is never nice.

“But I’ve put all those issues behind me and I just feel very fortunate to be here with such a prestigious team as the Lions.”Alex ready for action

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