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Wed Apr 23 19:33:39 SAST 2014

Sharpe to play on for Wallabies

TEAMtalk Media | 11 October, 2012 10:130 Comments
Wallabies Captains Run
Nathan Sharpe during the Australian captains run at Loftus Versfeld on September 28, 2012 in Pretoria, South Africa
Image by: Gallo Images / Getty Images

Veteran Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe agreed to postpone his retirement again after a mayday call from Robbie Deans to keep going for the four-Test tour of Europe in November.

The 34-year-old announced in February he would quit all competitive rugby at the end of July and move into the resources industry, while also working as a media commentator.

But he was enticed into staying on for the inaugural Rugby Championship over the Australian winter after injuries sidelined James Horwill and the forced retirement of Dan Vickerman.

He had an exceptional tournament, taking the captaincy when injury-hit David Pocock and then Will Genia, and agreed to remain with the squad for the Tests against England, France, Italy and Wales from November 10.

Deans said the decision to ask him to continue was logical given his experience and the fact that several senior players would not be ready to return as starters.

"You only have to look at what he has achieved with the group since he took over as captain," Deans said.

"His influence has been immense, he is arguably playing the best rugby of his career but, most importantly, he is enjoying the experience.

"Sharpey's presence and leadership has been a constant throughout the year - one of the few aspects of continuity that we've had through a season that is probably without precedent in terms of disruption."

Last weekend in Argentina, Sharpe became Australia's most capped forward, and second most capped player ever, taking the field for his 111th Test in their 25-19 win over the Pumas.

The gritty performance saw Australia finish runners-up behind the All Blacks in the four-nation tournament, which also features South Africa.

"Playing for Australia is something I have never taken for granted," said Sharpe.

"As such, to be asked to continue beyond the deadline I had set for myself was both flattering but also a request that was very difficult to turn down.

"The opportunity to lead the Wallabies again on what will be a challenging but exciting tour was too tempting. It is not easy to say no to your country."

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