Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Corbisiero boosted by Lions role

Alex Corbisiero described his Lions experience as 'incredible'

Alex Corbisiero insists England and Northampton will benefit from the confidence-enhancing end to his British and Irish Lions tour.

Corbisiero was overlooked for the original squad for Australia after making an end-of-season comeback from a knee problem that London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith described as "degenerative".

The 24-year-old, who has swapped the Madejksi Stadium for Franklin's Gardens, missed the RBS 6 Nations but returned in time for England's tour to Argentina and was then summoned by the Lions when injury struck.

A surprise selection for the first Test, he emerged as one of the Lions' key players with head coach Warren Gatland viewing him as man of the match in the series-clinching decider in Sydney.

The loosehead prop helped demolish Australia's scrum and was a major force in the loose, leaving him to reflect on an extraordinary experience that surpassed his expectations.

"I went from just being happy to be healthy and back playing, getting ready for a Test in Argentina, when all of a sudden I face a massive journey to Australia and I'm in the middle of a Lions tour," said Corbisiero, an ambassador for Newburn Bakehouse by Warburtons.

"There was an opportunity there and I tried to make the most of it. Playing in those Tests was incredible. The experience is very hard to describe, it was incredible.

"I underestimated how special a Lions tour is, so to experience it first hand was incredible.

"Being in the same dressing room with Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Sam Warburton - the last three Lions captains in one team - is something I'll always remember.

"The last Test was incredible - the emotion, relief and euphoria of winning was very special.

"I was very happy with my all-round game in that final Test, my strength in the set-piece and what I did around the park. It was one of my best performances.

"For someone like Gatland - a man who I respect so much - to say that means a lot and gives me massive confidence for the new season.

"It was great to end such a tough season with that type of achievement. I'm healthy, rested and looking forward to pushing on with Northampton and England."

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