Corbisiero revitalised by rest
Alex Corbisiero is confident the decision to rest his troublesome knee this summer will pay dividends for England and Northampton ahead of a crucial campaign.
A serious knee injury meant Corbisiero spent the majority of last season on the sidelines but the loose-head prop returned just in time to help Saints lift the Amlin Challenge Cup and their first Aviva Premiership title.
Despite his impressive displays, Corbisiero was told to take the summer off rather than join England's tour of New Zealand, which ended in a 3-0 series defeat.
With the 2015 World Cup just around the corner and a defence of the Premiership crown to sustain, Corbisiero believes the rest will make a considerable difference in the coming months.
"As tough a decision as it was to say no, it was the right decision, a big-picture decision so I'm happy with the choice I made," said Corbisiero, who used the time off to visit his family in America.
"There's a massive domestic season to get through, some big internationals to get through and then some minimal time off before the World Cup, which is probably going to be the pinnacle of my career.
"So to have this time off looking forward to the next 15 months ahead was massive and I feel very lucky to have that opportunity."
He continued: "Watching every test was pretty tough - sitting at my laptop in New York watching it online is never easy, you always want to play for your country.
"But I was thankful for the rest I had and I feel very refreshed. It was good to be away from rugby, spend some time with my family and get ready for what's going to be a big season hopefully for club and country."
Corbisiero returns to Northampton on Monday, hoping to make it through a full pre-season programme for the first time in three years.
Despite undergoing an operation in November, his knee continues to be managed on a day-to-day basis.
Corbisiero has had to limit his number of weekly training sessions for a number of years and admits his injury is likely to cause him problems even after he retires.
For now though, the 25-year-old is just focusing on a successful defence of the Premiership title.
"We're up there to be shot down and that's the challenge now," he said.
"We're at the top of the mountain and we have to get off it - that's the first thing we've done in pre-season.
"We're not going to see ourselves as champions any more, we're going to see ourselves as challengers trying to climb up again.
"The hunger to achieve in our squad is massive and with the culture and the supporters we have there's no way we're going to take our foot off the pedal."
Northampton beat bitter rivals Saracens 24-20 after extra-time in a dramatic play-off final in May, having seen off Bath to clinch the Amlin Challenge Cup the week before.
Saints have made minimal changes to their playing staff over the summer and Corbisiero believes that continuity will give the reigning champions a considerable advantage.
"A lot of people talked about the team choking in finals so to go away from two finals against two good teams and come away with two trophies in back-to-back weeks was incredible," Corbisiero said.
"We've justified the decision not to bring loads of signings in, we've made a few signings here and there to bolster the squad but having that continuity and guys who are used to playing with each other is only going to be a positive for us."