Alex Corbisero’s world tour will continue this week when he heads to Los Angeles and New York to visit relatives on a much needed break after helping the British & Irish Lions make history down under.
The English prop has spent the past month away from home and played after heading to Argentina with England before being called up to join the Lions in Australia. It took a 40 hour trip from Salta to Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires to Santiago, Santiago to Auckland, Auckland to Sydney and then Sydney to Brisbane to get him ‘down under’, but Saturday night’s series win made everything worthwhile.
Now, with his stock as one of the world’s top loose head props higher than ever, he will head ‘home’ – he was born in the USA – for a much deserved break after proving he could fight back to be better than ever after injury last season.
"It's been a crazy month or so. It's a bit surreal, but you take the opportunities you get in life and try to make the most of them and that is what I've tried to do,” said Corbisiero.
"I am going to LA to see my uncle for a night and then to New York for two weeks to see my grandparents. Then I am moving up to Northampton and getting ready for the new season.”
He will arrive in Northampton with fellow new boy George North as one of the new heroes of British & Irish rugby after scoring the try that paved the way for a record number of points from the Lions in a Test match. The 41-16 triumph clinched a first series in 16 years.
“It was absolutely incredible. I am a bit lost for words – it’s the best day of my life, and I’m just grateful to have been able to achieve something like that,” said Corbisiero.
"This is definitely going to be a highlight. At the moment, I am just taking it all in. I am absolutely loving it. It has been a tough year, and this is the perfect way to end it. I am really happy.
"I've always known when I get it right and am fit and healthy and have a chance to play, I know what I am capable of. I am really looking forward to pushing on with Saints now and putting a marker down there and carrying on from where I have just left off.
"I was happy to get on the scoreboard, but I knew there was a lot of the game left so I was just trying to stay focussed and not lose my head or anything.”
Corbisiero had to battle against a calf injury that forced him to miss the second Test in order to be fit to play in the series decider and he never looked back once he took the field. The Lions dominated the scrum and he forced his opposite number, the 51-times capped Ben Alexander to spend 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
No wonder Lions head coach Warren Gatland claimed that Corbisiero was his man of the match after seeing his side emerge victorious and glorious.
"We wanted to make sure we put a marker down at set-piece time and to get some dominance there. I think we were able to do that. We worked on our drills, we tweaked a few things, and the referee perceived our dominance as well,” explained Corbisiero.
“That made it a lot clearer in terms of getting those penalties. The set-piece was a real strength, we just stayed together and we worked hard as an eight. Even if we lost a hit, we stayed patient and we came back through – we were just smart and we were well-drilled.”
Corbisiero ended the series as the only forward on either side to score a try in the series, which will be a badge of honour he can proudly carry throughout his career.
"It was our day and we took our opportunities. Full credit to Australia, they fought their way back into it and it was a tough-fought game and an intense battle all over the field,” he added.
"There is no tomorrow as a Lion, there is no next year, it may never happen again for you, and that was the mentality we had. A lot of us might not be here in four years' time. Who knows what is going to happen?
"It has only just started to sink in what we have actually achieved. At the time you are just focussing on it being another game and seeing it through, and once that final whistle went you think 'wow, we've done this'.
"The support has been amazing, it was such a spectacle and a wonderful experience. A Lions tour is something really special, and I feel so privileged to be able to have experienced it and to come out with a winning series.
“Alun Wyn said it was an opportunity to wear the shirt forever and achieve something, or never wear it again. It's a dream come true.”