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Corbisiero soaks up Leonard advice

England's rookie prop Alex Corbisiero will head into Saturday's Grand Slam decider against Ireland with the words of his rugby hero ringing in his ears.

The London Irish loosehead grew up idolising Jason Leonard and he fell into conversation with England's most-capped international after the Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland. Given Leonard won a Grand Slam at the first time of asking, as a fresh-faced member of Will Carling's 1991 team, Corbisiero soaked up the advice.

"I was very young when Jason was making his debut in the England side and by the time I had come through into rugby he was definitely a hero of mine," Corbisiero said. "I had a great conversation with him after the Scotland game. We were at the dinner and I saw an opportunity to introduce myself to him."

He added: "Hearing him speak and taking his advice was a great experience. He had some positive words about me which was really nice to hear from someone like him but I know I am not the finished article.

"He advised me to keep my head down and said that, at my age in this environment, you have to be a sponge and soak up as much information as possible because you will need it in the future.

"I really appreciated it."

Corbisiero was parachuted into the England team against Italy's fearsome front row after Andrew Sheridan pulled out on the eve of the match, and acquitted himself admirably.

An impressive performance off the bench against French tighthead Nicolas Mas followed after Sheridan tore a calf muscle.

Corbisiero made his second Test start against Scotland and is set to be retained in the front row to face Ireland when Martin Johnson names his team tomorrow.

Leonard is not the only one with complimentary words for Corbisiero, and England scrum coach Graham Rowntree said: "I am delighted how Corbs has come in and taken his chance. He came in at the last minute for that Italy game and was really composed. He has taken it in his stride."

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