sport

Corbisiero hungry for success

Alex Corbisiero is hungry to make his England comeback - after having a pizza named in his honour.

The London Irish prop will replace Joe Marler at loose-head for Saturday's QBE international against South Africa after overcoming the knee injury he suffered on England's summer tour.

The Exiles prop will lock horns with the physical Springboks after just two LV= Cup starts but he is confident that is enough preparation after five months out.

Corbisiero threw himself into his rehabilitation and keeping a strict diet was helped by the fact he no longer eats wheat or dairy after discovering 18 months ago he is intolerant.

Jonathan Joseph blames Corbisiero for ruining the menu at London Irish - but he is actually on the menu at Kingston's gluten and wheat-free Italian restaurant Bruschetta.

"I cut wheat and dairy them out of my diet just over a year ago and I feel so much better digestion-wise," Corbisiero said.

"It means that after a game when I want to have my bad meal there are not many options for me so I usually go to Bruschetta.

"The pizza I always get has a gluten-free base, buffalo mozzarella, Italian sausage, chicken and pepperoni. It is called 'Alex Corbisiero's favourite'.

"It's quite a nice one and now they've put it on the menu.

"The diet keeps me on the straight and I've lost a lot of body fat. I'm still heavy but I've definitely lost some excess fat.

"I was frustrated with the injury but I thought 'get back on the horse and focus on my weights, my rehab, my diet to ensure I'd be ready when I came back. I was really motivated.

"I've done everything I can to get myself right and be ready to play. I feel pretty confident in myself.

"I've had two games. I'm getting my confidence back and I'm aware of what it takes to play at this level."

Corbisiero was due to start England's third Test against South Africa on the summer tour after making a significant impact off the bench the week before when injury struck.

The 24-year-old is considered England's premier loosehead prop and he would have started against the Springboks this week even if Marler had not sustained knee ligament damage.

Before his diagnosis, Corbisiero would feel uncomfortable and lethargic on match days. Now, he is ready to sink his teeth - metaphorically - into the prime beef of the South African front row.

The England pack struggled against a canny Australian set piece last week and, according to Corbisiero, have "a point to prove" this Saturday.

"When you come into Test rugby you have to get certain things right - the scrum and lineout, the breakdown and physicality," Corbisiero said.

"You have to bring all those things to the party if you want to win. That's especially relevant when you're playing South Africa.

"They're very confrontational, physical and direct. They're one of the bigger-sized packs in world rugby and you need to meet that challenge.

"We need to make sure we give ourselves the best platform to go out and get the win.

"I think we've got a point to prove. The memories of last week are going to spur us on more. We are a good scrum. Hopefully we'll go out this weekend and show it."

Corbisiero is one of at least four changes coach Stuart Lancaster has made to the side that went down 20-14 to Australia. Potentially half the pack could be changed.

Tom Wood will start at blinded flanker for Tom Johnson while Gloucester number eight Ben Morgan is expected to replace Thomas Waldrom, who has dropped out of the match-day squad.

The dynamic Wasps lock Joe Launchbury is pushing hard for a first Test start in the second row in place of Tom Palmer as England look to match the Springboks forward intensity.

South Africa named an unchanged side today that included Eben Etzebeth, their 21-year-old lock who coach Heyneke Meyer described as the Springbok "enforcer" and one of the best in the world.

England have similar expectations for Launchbury. Lancaster will confirm his line-up in the morning.

In the backs, Mike Brown is expected to be selected on the wing in place of Charlie Sharples in a bid to combat the Springboks' kicking game.

England used two full-backs on the summer tour and are set to reprise that tactic this weekend.

Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt are likely to remain together in midfield with Joseph back on the bench after he recovered from an ankle injury.