Alex Corbisiero says he would have taken “10 flights” from Argentina to Australia if that meant him linking up with the British and Irish Lions.
Corbisiero, who will play for Saints next season after making the switch from London Irish, will make his Lions debut against a Combined Country XV in Newcastle on Tuesday, while his fellow tour replacement Ryan Grant is on bench duty.
Both players were summoned Down Under following injuries to props Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins, who flew home yesterday.
And for Corbisiero, it meant a marathon journey from Salta in Argentina - where he was part of an England team preparing to face the Pumas on Saturday - via Buenos Aires, Santiago, Auckland and Sydney before reaching Brisbane.
“We had our day off in Salta, so I had a bit of a lie-in, and then I woke up and Stuart (England head coach Stuart Lancaster) wanted to speak with me,” Corbisiero said.
“I met him by the pool, and he informed me there had been an injury in the Lions game and I was going to make my way there. It felt a bit surreal. Within 24 hours, I was on my way. I am over the moon about it.
“The travelling wasn’t easy. It was five flights and a bit of a journey, but I am not complaining at all.
“I would have taken 10 flights if that was what it required. The opportunity to be here is incredible.
“In my head it was a 30-hour journey. There were a lot of changes which might have made it more than that. I left about midday on Thursday in Argentina, and got to Brisbane about midday on Saturday.”
Corbisiero battled to overcome a knee injury for much of the recently-completed English season, playing around 12 games in 12 months, but after regaining full fitness he now has a chance to push for Lions Test team selection.
“There is a lot of rugby between now and the first Test,” he added.
“I am looking forward to putting my hand up, and if it comes it comes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t, but I am going to try to make the most of the opportunity I have been given.
“I feel very good. It has been a frustrating year with injury, but it is one of those things I can’t do anything about.
“You control the controllables, and that was being patient and making sure I got my knee right and got back to full fitness. I feel fresh and ready and match-fit.
“I have had no reaction with the knee. Obviously, you are not going to do anything stupid, you just keep an eye on the training load and make sure you don’t do too much on it in the week, but at the moment it has been absolutely fine.
“I have no issues, and I am very grateful I took the time and was patient with it to make sure it was right.
“Being injured is never fun, but friends and family help pull you through and stay positive. I’ve done everything I can to get right, and I feel very grateful to be here and have such an opportunity to do something as prestigious as the Lions.”