Will Sharpe linger for Lions?

It is being billed as Nathan Sharpe's final Test on Australian soil, but after the season he, his side and his coach have had can we really believe it is going to be the end for the giant Western Storm lock? [more]

Will Sharpe linger for Lions?

It is being billed as Nathan Sharpe’s final Test on Australian soil, but after the season he, his side and his coach have had can we really believe it is going to be the end for the giant Western Storm lock?

He has already twice extended his international career this year to help out the injury ravaged Wallabies and his form has been that good he has missed only 16 minutes of 800 played in 10 Tests.

His cap tally will rise to 112 when he leads the Wallabies out against their biggest rivals New Zealand at Ballymore
tomorrow in what will be his 27th game against the All Blacks. He has agreed to head north to Europe next month for the games against France, Italy, England and Wales, begging the question as to whether he will answer another call to hang on for the British & Irish Lions tour next summer.

The question has been met with a firm ‘no’ to date, but Robbie Deans has performed miracles in keeping the 34-year-old
in the international fold and might be motivated to have one more stab ahead of next year’s 125th anniversary tour by Warren Gatland’s Lions.

Sharpe has already quit the Western Force, and promised his family he will be at home next year rather than jetting off around the world with the Western Force and Australia, but with only a six month gap between the Wallabies’ clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium on 1 December and the start of the Lions tour he could stay in shape for even more emergency duty.

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His more immediate focus, however, is on meeting the reigning world champions, and winners of the inaugural Rugby Championship, head on in Brisbane to try to pick up a fifth win over them in what is the third and final Bledisloe Cup game of the year.

"We like a challenge – I think it fits the Australian psyche. When the backs are to the wall the guys like to show their character,” admitted Sharpe.

“That can be a strength and also a weakness and is something we have to get away from in Australian rugby. It doesn’t allow you to build consistency in performance.

“To be consistent you have to prepare the same way each week with minimal degrees of difference in your performance. And you can't rely on the emotional side of things to get you up each week and I think that is an area we have to get better at in Australian rugby.

"Every team is beatable. We will have to play the best game we have played this year, by a way as well, and we are aware of that, but we’ve had a great week of preparation and if we can translate that into a performance on the field we will give ourselves a shot."

Sharpe will rise to outright seventh on the all-time cap list with his 112 Test. The game will also welcome New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu into the exclusive ‘100 Cap Club’.  He will become the 22nd player to reach that landmark.
 

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