Sharpe ‘deserves’ winning send-off
Thu, 29 Nov 2012 16:49
We will do everything we can to honour the end of his career appropriately
The Wallabies will be fired up to give captain Nathan Sharpe a fitting send-off when they close out the year with a clash with Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Sharpe will bring down the curtain on a stellar career at the Millennium Stadium when he leads out Australia in his 116th and final Test match against the Six Nations champions.
After twice delaying his retirement earlier this year to help Australia through a difficult period, the 34-year-old lock has confirmed that he will hang up his boots for good following Saturday’s encounter.
Wallaby coach Robbie Deans says Sharpe’s swansong will motivate the team to end the year on a high.
"They [the Australian players] know the privilege they have playing alongside Nathan Sharpe in what will be the final outing of one of the most significant careers in Wallaby history," Deans said.
"While he will insist - rightly - that the focus is totally on the team, he has had a great career and is a great bloke. As a group, we will be doing everything that we can to honour the end of his career appropriately."
Wing Drew Mitchell, who returns to the starting line-up for the Welsh clash, said Sharpe deserves a winning send-off.
"He is an integral part of the side and there's added incentive and motivation to send him out a winner, what we think he deserves," Mitchell said.
"The type of bloke he is, I don't think he'd like too much chat about it in a group sense, and I don't think you'll be hearing anyone in team huddles with a 'let's do it for Sharpie' kind of thing, but I think there's an understanding and perhaps a couple of conversations in the group.
"Obviously there is bigger motivation in that we are playing for our country ... but a guy like Sharpie, who has done so much, of course we would like to send him out a winner and perhaps even get a couple of the bigger blokes to throw him on the shoulders after the game or something.
"If we go about our week properly and do the right things in preparation, and we go out and execute as well as we'd like, then hopefully Sharpie gets to finish his career on the note he deserves.”
Australia, holders of the James Bevan Trophy, have won the last seven meetings between the teams but Deans believes that will only provide Wales with more motivation, especially with the hosts also facing the prospect of a winless year-end series following losses to Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand.
"You don't win two Grand Slams in the last four years [2008 and 2012] while also making the semifinals of the Rugby World Cup without being a quality outfit, and a resilient one," Deans said.
"If we were in their situation, I know the response I would be expecting.
"Cornered beasts are always the most dangerous; they have nowhere else to go but straight ahead! I've no doubt that [Wales coach] Warren [Gatland] and his men will feel that way at the moment.
“They did some good things last weekend against New Zealand, and weren't always rewarded for them. Our recent history [against Wales] shows how little there is between the two sides. Our blokes won't need reminding of that."
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