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Warrior Sharpe wary of Wales as Wallabies get ready for war


Retirement looms, but the veteran refuses to look past the next game, writes Georgina Robinson.

Going out at the top … Nathan Sharpe, the Wallabies' most capped second-rower, is pleased to be ending his career on his own terms.

Going out at the top … Nathan Sharpe, the Wallabies' most capped second-rower, is pleased to be ending his career on his own terms. Photo: Getty Images

Nathan Sharpe doesn't make excuses. But as the undisputed veteran of the Wallabies, who is counting down on one hand the games he has left to play, the 34-year-old can put a few things in perspective.

The most capped second-rower in Australian history has never in his 102-Test career been asked to play two matches in four days.

Last Tuesday's weather in Newcastle was, he says, ''in the top three worst conditions I've played in anywhere in the world, let alone Australia''. And Wales, smarting from Saturday's loss, will be more dangerous than ever in the second Test in Melbourne this weekend.

''This is the best Welsh team I've ever played against,'' he says. ''We're expecting big things from them again this weekend, and they will have learnt a lot from Saturday, and we expect them to try to remedy that.

''The game will have a completely different focus and a completely different energy about it.''

Sharpe should know. Saturday's match was his 11th against Wales. He's collected more caps against one country than 11 of his teammates have in their entire careers.

The difference, according to Sharpe, between the Wallabies that were humiliated by Scotland and the Wallabies that humbled Six Nations champions Wales was better choices.

The weather was terrible, and the team had hardly had time to shake each others' hands early in the week, but a few days later it boiled down to a group that wanted to prove something, and aligned their decision-making accordingly.

''We took better options,'' Sharpe says. ''And obviously it was a good test for the resolve of the team to go through that and perform well after the loss, to back up and play Wales.''

It was especially satisfying to watch his Western Force teammate David Pocock handle his first two games as captain under extremely challenging circumstances, Sharpe says.

''His response was that [the loss] had occurred, and as pissed off as we were we knew we had a job to do four days later and we had to worry about that,'' he says. ''Dave was one of the first guys to pick up that mentality and go forward with it.''

Pocock has been widely praised for his role in the Wallabies' triumph in Brisbane. Sharpe, who was the breakaway's captain at the Force until this season, when Pocock took over, says there is no question his friend will succeed in the role.

''It's just time on your feet for him, he'll get better and better,'' he says. ''Dave's game is as good as ever, and he is certainly getting his head around the extra commitment and the broader thinking you need to be captain, [as well as] all about tempering emotional responses with objective reasoning.''

Sharpe, on the other hand, has nothing more than his team's supremacy over the Welsh to prove in the final two Tests of his career.

He admits to the odd thought about whether he was ready to let go of rugby, but says he is proud to be finishing playing on his own terms. ''I think those thoughts cross your mind all time, but I think, deep down and in the grand scheme, it's the right time for me to do it,'' Sharpe says.

''I've always been keen to be a strong contributor to whatever team I'm part of, and I don't want to be one of those guys that will be asked to leave. I'm more relaxed, more than anything, because it's not like I'm looking to play on or protect my position. I set my own standards and try to fulfil those. It's a bit empowering in a lot of ways.''

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
NZL 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs ARG 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 3 0 3 0 -96 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 3 0 3 0 -59 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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