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Warrior Sharpe wary of Wales as Wallabies get ready for war

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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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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
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BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
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HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
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Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
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SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
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CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
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BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
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REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
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BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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RED 46 vs REB 29 Report Stats
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Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
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BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
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LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 21
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Hurricanes 13 12 1 0 143 57
Waratahs 13 9 4 0 50 41
Stormers 13 9 4 0 42 38
Chiefs 13 9 4 0 87 44
Brumbies 13 7 6 0 102 38
Lions 14 8 6 0 -27 36
Highlanders 13 9 4 0 89 43
Bulls 13 7 6 0 29 35
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