New Saints signing and England prop Alex Corbisiero has said that London Irish boss Brian Smith was wrong to cast doubt over his future by describing his knee injury as “degenerative”.
Corbisiero will miss the start of England’s RBS 6 Nations campaign with a recurrence of the knee problem that has plagued him since the start of the summer tour.
But the 24-year-old has dismissed fears the injury is career-threatening and he is confident of being fit to play some part in England’s campaign.
And that will be a big relief to supporters of Saints.
“Degenerative is definitely incorrect and it was maybe the wrong phrase to use,” Corbisiero told Press Association Sport.
“It is not really any effect on my career or anything like that. It just needs time to get 100 per cent.
“My knee will get better, it will settle down. I have been reassured by everyone.
“It has been a frustrating injury for me, to come back from my surgery and have it flare up again.
“I am letting it settle down to get 100 per cent healthy so I can push on again. I can’t rush it.
“I am hoping to be back playing in the next couple of weeks.”
Corbisiero endured a frustrating 2012, first battling a persistent bicep injury and then finding himself requiring surgery after damaging his knee in South Africa.
Although he returned to fitness in November, the injury flared up against after he had played in England’s record triumph over New Zealand.
It was after Corbisiero aborted a comeback against Gloucester on January 5 that a frustrated Smith described his knee as “a mess”.
“He has got degenerative knee issues,” said Smith, who highlighted that Corbisiero had played fewer games for London Irish than he had for England this season.
Corbisiero is leaving London Irish for Northampton this summer.
The Exiles are battling against relegation and Corbisiero is the latest in a line of high-profile players to leave the club, after the likes of Delon and Steffon Armitage, Nick Kennedy, Paul Hodgson and Dan Bowden.
But Corbisiero maintains a strong affection for the club and stressed he is abandoning a sinking ship, despite their Premiership struggles and money troubles.
“This season hasn’t been ideal but it has been a transition year for us. All teams go through periods of transition,” Corbisiero said.
“A lot of guys who have been key to London Irish left last season and you will always feel a void but we have lot of talented young players.
“I feel we are starting to turn the corner. The boys put in a great performance to get a win at Gloucester and I definitely think they will stay up.
“The club has a bright future. I just felt it was the right time for me to make the move, to put myself in a new environment with a new challenge.”
Corbisiero was accused, in jest, by London Irish team-mate Jonathan Joseph of ruining the menu at the club after he was diagnosed as wheat and dairy intolerant.
Corbisiero has embraced a new diet to such an extent that he has a pizza named after him at a gluten-free Italian restaurant in Kingston.
“I feel so much better digestion-wise and I’ve lost a lot of body fat,” Corbisiero said.
“I’m still heavy but I’ve definitely lost some excess fat.”
Alex Corbisiero is launching Newburn Bakehouse by Warburtons, the new look range of free-from products by Britain’s biggest baker. For more information visit www.facebook.com/NewburnBakehouse