Corbisiero raring to go

Alex Corbisiero is confident the decision to rest his troublesome knee this summer will pay dividends for England and Northampton.

Corbisiero spent the majority of last season on the sidelines with a serious knee injury but the loose-head prop returned just in time to help Saints lift the Amlin Challenge Cup and their first Aviva Premiership title.

Despite his impressive displays, Corbisiero was told to take the summer off rather than join England's tour of New Zealand, which ended in a 3-0 series defeat.

With the 2015 World Cup just around the corner and a defence of the Premiership crown to sustain, Corbisiero believes the rest will make a big difference next season.

"As tough a decision as it was to say no, it was the right decision, a big-picture decision so I'm happy with the choice I made," said Corbisiero who used the time of to visit his family in the United States.

"There's a massive domestic season to get through, some big internationals to get through and then some minimal time off before the World Cup, which is probably going to be the pinnacle of my career.

"So to have this time off looking forward to the next 15 months ahead was massive and I feel very lucky to have that opportunity."

He continued: "Watching every test was pretty tough - sitting at my laptop in New York watching it online is never easy, you always want to play for your country.

"But I was thankful for the rest I had and I feel very refreshed. It was good to be away from rugby, spend some time with my family and get ready for what's going to be a big season hopefully for club and country."

Corbisiero returns to Northampton on Monday, hoping to make it through a full pre-season programme for the first time in three years, and the 25-year-old is focusing on a successful defence of the Premiership title.

"We're up there to be shot down and that's the challenge now," he said.

"We're at the top of the mountain and we have to get off it - that's the first thing we've done in pre-season.

"We're not going to see ourselves as champions any more, we're going to see ourselves as challengers trying to climb up again.

"The hunger to achieve in our squad is massive and with the culture and the supporters we have there's no way we're going to take our foot off the pedal."