England prop Alex Corbisiero is aiming to crown a fairytale month by helping the British & Irish Lions clinch the series against the Qantas Wallabies in Sydney tonight.
Having missed most of the season with a knee injury, the London Irish loose head won selection for the England team to play in Argentina in June and was due to play in Stuart Lancaster’s side that comprehensively beat the Pumas in Salta.
Then came the call from the Lions to join them in Australia when both Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins went down with tour ending injuries. He was pulled out of the England team and, no sooner had he arrived in Australia, than he found himself thrust into the Test team.
If victory in Brisbane was the crowing glory of his return to fitness, a calf injury burst his bubble and put him out of the second Test. But he is back for the series decider in Sydney tonight and simply can’t wait to get back into the action.
“This is the game of a lifetime – opportunities like this don’t come around very often and may never come around again. To be in a Lions side with so many quality players, and so much on the line, and four years before you get an opportunity to have another chance, is incredible,” said Corbisiero.
“I am very proud and grateful to be involved and very keen to put my mark on it. It is a massive honour and I feel very privileged.
“I was hoping I would get right and I am very grateful to the physios for getting me right. Phil Pask has been working with me every day, morning and evening and, after a lot of rehab, I’ve got it right.
“I am very happy to be ready and proud to be playing in this game. I am very excited at what’s coming.”
Corbisiero replaces his England team mate Mako Vunipola and is one of two changes in the front row. Richard Hibbard moves off the bench into the starting XV and Adam Jones completes the front row.
It is an area that the Lions dominated in the early part of the first Test and it will be one of the most vital phases tonight. Corbisiero says the Lions are ready to meet the challenge.
“Fair play to the Wallabies they have fronted up in every game. Technically they are well drilled,” he said.
“The forward battle is always crucial and every set piece and breakdown will be vital and it is going to be a real test of our character. We have to make sure we go out there and put in a good performance.
“We are focusing on the controlables – that’s what we do well and what we do right. We want to get our drills and ourselves right and if we get it right the momentum will be with us.
“The intensity of these battles has been massive and it is a game won by small decisions and small inches. We expect to try to notch the intensity up again and go at it because it is all to play for.”