The England World Cup prop Alex Corbisiero was uneasy about answering the now-infamous questionnaire that formed part of the review, leaked to the press, of England's shambolic campaign in New Zealand, he told The Independent yesterday. He was not the source of any of the damning assessments of several of his World Cup team-mates and coaches, he said.
"I filled it in but didn't write any comments," he explained. "I was a bit uncomfortable writing it in the first place, and I was wary about who would read it, but I was sort of pressured into doing it, so I did it, but I didn't write any comments. There was a sheet with ticks and ratings, and you could comment at the bottom of each question, but I just ticked the boxes. To be honest I didn't really have an opinion of what could have gone better, because I'd never been there [to a World Cup] before."
The London Irish forward denied there had been any undue ridicule aimed by some senior players towards the World Cup debutants, with particular abuse being heaped on those who trained hard, as some team-mates anonymously claimed.
"Not really," he said, although when pushed on the "really" he conceded that the atmosphere in the England camp had not been entirely a bed of red roses. "Obviously, rugby is a game built around banter," he said, "but it was nothing worse than I've found at my club."
So was he mystified by comments that reveal a fractured team spirit and morale at rock bottom? "Everyone's got their opinions," he said. "I have mine, and that's mine. For me, we were focused on winning, on playing well, and there honestly wasn't really that much negativity."
Some of those in and around the England camp have expressed anger that the reports were leaked. Corbisiero said that his overriding emotion was disappointment. "It's sad that someone would want to do that, but it's out there, it's happened, so what are we going to do about it?"
As for the notorious night out in Queenstown, he went back early to the team hotel. So he wasn't in the Altitude bar at all? "No, no, no, no, no," he said. "I wasn't involved in it, to be honest. I was out there to focus on my rugby and just get on with it."
For the full interview, read Monday's 'Independent'Reuse content