Unthinkable just two years ago, Alex Corbisiero now seems set to miss out on the World Cup but England great Jason Leonard is hoping his fellow loosehead can still make the final squad.
Following a series of knee and shoulder problems, Corbisiero has been suffering with sciatica since making a cameo appearance in England’s 19-14 victory over France in the recent warm up game at Twickenham.
The 26-year-old’s latest setback ruled him out of the defeat to Les Bleus last weekend and led head coach Stuart Lancaster to admit the Northampton Saints prop is in danger of missing out on the 31-man World Cup squad.
The final 31-man squad is announced on Thursday, and failing to make the cut would mark a cruel reversal of fortunes for a player who established himself as one of the world’s best looseheads after starring for the British & Irish Lions in their 2013 series win against Australia.
And Leonard, who helped lead England to World Cup glory in 2003, believes that the current side’s chances would undoubtedly be boosted if a fully-fit Corbisiero could rediscover his best form.
“From a fan’s point of view I’d like to see Alex Corbisiero play but he keeps picking up injuries,” said Leonard.
“If he’s not available to play for the next game coming up against Ireland on September 5 most probably he’ll lose out on the World Cup.
“The last couple of seasons we’ve seen a lot of Joe Marler, because Corbisiero has been injured quite a fair bit, but Alex brings you something else because he had such a great Lions tour down in Australia and he’s a very good, solid scrummager.
“The problem now is injury for him and whether he can overcome – he’s had knee and shoulder issues and now sciatica so it’s a case of getting him on the pitch fit.
“But without Alex, Joe Marler can definitely step up and do the job and Mako Vunipola is up there as well so they’ve got a good base to work from and just need to start fine-tuning.”
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