It’s a metabolic fact that the fast-twitch fibres in the major muscle groups of athletes get stronger in their late twenties and early thirties. With sports that require huge blasts of strength, such as powerlifting and strongman competitions, the best in the world usually reach their peak around this age. Being a top-class rugby prop forward is no different in that respect, with most International players hitting their best form in their late-twenties. Not PUMA star Alex Corbisiero though. At 23 he should still be considered a rookie but such is his awesome natural strength, scrummagging technique and mature rugby brain he has already amassed 10 International caps and looks set to be the front-row lynchpin for his club and country for years to come.
A real product of the system, ‘Corbs’ came up through the academy structure at his club and played every age-group level for his country before finally making his full debut in February 2011. Such was his impact at that level that he was a straightforward pick for Rugby World Cup 2011 and was one of the few players from his squad to come away from the tournament with an enhanced reputation. After a poor team showing on the pitch and a PR disaster off it the national side now have a new interim coaching team in place and a serious point to prove to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere's finest teams. Alex Corbisiero will be key in that recovery of pride.
A popular figure at both club and international level he seems to effortlessly bring a positivity and calmness to dressing rooms. It’s worth checking out the video of his dressing room rap online and particularly the hugely positive response of his teammates to his remarkable efforts. On the pitch, his dynamic running lines cause chaos for defences as do his offloading skills, which go a long way to dispelling the myth that props are not generally a skilful bunch. It is however his raw power in the set pieces that marks him apart. His super-fast, explosive lifting in the line-outs and destructive scrum techniques are a genuine weapon. Those gnarled old heads from mainland Europe had better beware come scrum time.
After appearing in four of his countries five games last year he now knows the tournaments territory and what is expected of him. That expectation sits well on his broad shoulders and will continue to do so for what looks to be a long and stellar career unfolding in front of Alex Corbisiero, one of the best young props in the world.