Northampton v Leicester
Fit-again Corbisiero backed to make impact
ESPN Staff
May 15, 2014
Northampton's Alex Corbisiero goes on a run, Northampton Saints v London Wasps, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, May 10, 2014
Alex Corbisiero goes on a run on his return to action last weekend © Getty Images

Fit-again Alex Corbisiero can have a "massive influence" on the closing stages of Northampton's Aviva Premiership derby semi-final against Leicester on Friday, according to Jim Mallinder.

Corbisiero is on Northampton's bench for the game at Franklin's Gardens after making his first appearance since suffering knee problems in October when the Saints overwhelmed Wasps 74-13 on Saturday.

Saints are likely to pitch Corbisiero into action on or around the hour-mark, and Northampton director of rugby Mallinder backed him to wreak havoc in the decisive exchanges.

"You have to be careful with how you bring players back, but someone like Alex Corbisiero is a world-class player, he's shown that with the British Lions last year. He hadn't played much rugby but got called up I think from the England tour, and he was outstanding there, so he's proven he doesn't need a whole season behind him, that he can step onto the biggest stage and still perform with limited game-time."

George Pisi, Kahn Fotuali'i, Samu Manoa and Tom Wood all return to Northampton's starting line-up, with Phil Dowson captain and Calum Clark on the bench. Courtney Lawes returns at lock after being rested for the comfortable victory over Wasps, with Sam Dickinson at No.8.

Leicester bring six internationals back into their starting line-up after fielding a weakened side for their victory over Saracens last weekend. British Lions lock Geoff Parling, Rob Hawkins, Blaine Scully and Stankovich miss out through concussion, with Leicester hinting the quartet would have been available with an extra day's rest.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill has already shrugged off injury issues as the Tigers compete in their 10th successive Premiership play-off run. "We've come through 22 tough rounds of Aviva Premiership rugby, everyone has worked really hard, and we've shown a lot of resilience to get here," he said. "Now it comes down to 80 minutes on Friday for a place in the final.

"Saints have had a very good season, they've been on good form, but we've been in decent form too and we will do our best to go there and try to win. It's a local derby and a semi-final, it should be a heck of a game."

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