Alex Corbisiero ready for duel with fellow Lions prop Mako Vunipola for England shirt

Last Updated: 02/08/13 3:15pm

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Alex Corbisiero: Scored opening try in third Lions Test

Alex Corbisiero: Scored opening try in third Lions Test

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Prop Alex Corbisiero is expecting a fierce battle with Lions team-mate Mako Vunipola for the England No 1 shirt this season.

The Northampton-bound loosehead was one of the stars of the British & Irish Lions' series victory over Australia.

He and Saracens star Vunipola were involved in a tussle for a stating place in the Lions team and that duel will continue with England.

Corbisiero started the first and third Tests, both of which the Lions won, but missed the second Test defeat - where Vunipola started - because of injury.

England face Australia, Argentina and New Zealand in November with both men aiming to start for Stuart Lancaster's men.

"I really enjoy being in the squad with Mako. He's a good guy on and off the field, an outstanding player," Corbisiero said.

"What he's achieved in the last year has been incredible. The competition will only strengthen both of us.

"We'll both be fighting to start, but also be happy to come off the bench. It's a position of strength because there's Joe Marler as well."
Alex Corbisiero

"We'll both be fighting to start, but also be happy to come off the bench. It's a position of strength because there's Joe Marler as well."

Vunipola was in Warren Gatland's original Lions squad but Corbisiero was called in to it from the England tour of South America to replace the injured Gethin Jenkins.

Star

He became one of the stars of the series, helping Adam Jones dismantle the Australian scrum in Brisbane and Sydney, and he admits he is still pinching himself.

"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," he said.

"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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