ARU pleads with 'retired' Sharpe
The Australian Rugby Union is desperate to convince veteran lock Nathan Sharpe to 'postpone' his retirement for a third time this year.
The Australian Rugby Union is desperate to convince veteran lock Nathan Sharpe to 'postpone" his retirement for a third time this year.
The 34-year-old, who has notched more than 100 Test caps for Australia, had initially planned to retire at the end of the Super Rugby season, but was persuaded to play in the June Tests and the convinced to also stay on for Rugby Championship due to injuries in Australia's second row and captaincy stocks.
Sharpe said he will "take a few days" to consider the latest request from the ARU to delay his retirement again and lead the Wallabies on their end-of-year tour of Europe next month.
Sharpe confirmed he had been asked to stay on for the four-Test tour of Italy, France, England and Wales but said he had not decided whether or not he would.
Former captain and second row forward James Horwill, plus his replacement captain David Pocock, are on track to return for the tour, which starts on November 3, but will be coming back from extended lay-offs.
Will Genia, who took over from Pocock when he tore his a ligament in his knee in the Sydney Bledisloe match, is out for a further five to eight months also with a knee injury he sustained in the Wallabies win over South Africa in Perth.
Without those senior players there are only two more players in the leadership group, James O'Connor and Pat McCabe.
Wallabies great John Eales said Australia will benefit if Sharpe shelves retirement plans yet again and lead the Wallabies on their upcoming European tour.
Eales, who captained the Wallabies in their 1999 World Cup triumph, said it would be a bonus if Sharpe played on for one final tour.
"It's very important to have that leadership in the team, to have those senior leaders," Eales said.
"There's a lot of experience out of the team through injury, so having a guy like Sharpey around who doesn't get flustered easily is valuable.
"He's just got to go on his own judgment. He's been around for long enough and he knows whether he'll be up for it.
"If he's up for it, he should go for it.
"I think it's really good news for Australian rugby if he wants to play on because we've had a really big injury list.
"His form has been excellent, and you want people who are in form."
In other Wallabies injury news, prop Sekope Kepu, No.8 Wycliff Palu and utility Adam Ashley-Cooper are all likely to join the squad when they go into camp in Brisbane on Sunday ahead of the final Bledisloe match on October 20.
Sources: Sydney Morning Herald & AAP