London Irish’s New York-born prop Alex Corbisiero replaces loosehead Andrew Sheridan, who has pulled out with a back injury, in England’s starting line-up against Italy. The uncapped Corbisiero, 22, trained with England at Twickenham this morning having spent two days in the camp earlier this week as an injury replacement for Tim Payne (London Wasps).
A former IRB Junior World Championship finalist, he played for England Saxons in the 2010 Churchill Cup and against Italy A and Ireland A earlier this year.
England Team Manager Martin Johnson said: “Sheri has progressed a bit this morning but not enough and we made the call that Alex is starting.
“We have no qualms putting him in there at loose head and starting. David covers loose-head from the bench but Alex has more experience there.
“We trust all the squad to play. I had the conversation with Alex as we walked off the field on Tuesday. He was saying ‘thanks for having me in’.
“I told him you are only an injury away from starting and you have got to be ready. He’s strong, fit and he can play at this level. He’s played against some of the best props in the world in the Premiership.”
Corin Palmer is Premiership Rugby’s Head of Academies and Development and has just concluded the review of the academy structure that has informed the new collaborative academy agreement between the RFU and the clubs.
Corin was Academy Manager at London Irish from 2001 to 2006 and has watched Corbisiero develop. Palmer said, “It is always gratifying to see someone come into an academy set up as a young player and a young man and go on to realise their potential and play international rugby. “Alex was one of a group of highly talented young players in that group; Delon Armitage, Matt Banahan, Shane Geraghty, Nick Kennedy, Topsy Ojo and David Paice, all of whom have gone on to represent England.
“Toby (Booth, Assistant Academy Manager at the time) and I could see straight away how determined he was to achieve. That determination has stood him in good stead and under Toby’s continued tutelage, Alex has gone on to develop into one of the best front rows in Aviva Premiership Rugby and now at just 22 years of age gets his opportunity on the international stage.
“The front row is a tough area to break into and Alex has learned from some very good players at Irish, but he has been part of successful Irish team domestically and in Europe, as well as playing consistently well in the England under 20s and Saxons. I am sure Alex will grasp the opportunity with both hands and it’s a chance he richly deserves.”