British and Irish Lions: Alex Corbisiero thrilled at being named in starting line-up
Alex Corbisiero is delighted to have put his injury woes behind him as he prepares to make his Lions Test debut.
Last Updated: 20/06/13 10:15pm
The Northampton-bound forward edged out England colleague Mako Vunipola to claim the loosehead spot for Saturday's first Test against Australia.
Corbisiero was called up as front-row cover following injuries to Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins, but the 24-year-old also had problems of his own, with a knee injury hindering his progression. That's behind him though.
"I just wanted to make the most of the opportunities I was given, try to put my hand up and let the coaches make the decision. I am absolutely thrilled to be involved this weekend," he said.
"I have just tried to focus on my own game, making sure my set-piece has been consistent and tried to be accurate and efficient around the park in everything I do.
"Every time I had some game-time (in Australia), I tried to make an impact and show what I was able to do. I am very glad the coaches have given me the nod.
"There have definitely been some dark times this season when you are sitting there and you are frustrated. But looking back now, there was light at the end of the tunnel and I made sure I was patient.
"Like I've said before, I am just looking forward, and anyone who put question marks over my career I am trying every week to try to prove them wrong, show them what I am capable of and that I've got a long future in this game."
Gatland acknowledged that while players will be disappointed to have missed out on selection there would still be opportunities for them to play a part in the series, as was proven on the last tour four years ago.
"If you remember 2009, the midfield combination for the first Test (against South Africa) was Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll," he said.
"And for the third Test it ended up being Riki Flutey and Tommy Bowe in the centre, and I think we finished the match with (scrum-half) Mike Phillips at 12 as well.
"It is important that the rest of the squad stay focused. After the team announcement, we know there was some disappointment among the players, but it was just how those players went in and congratulated each other.
"There were a few disappointed (players), but we are very close knit at the moment and there is a really positive feel in the team."