Neville aims to fill Sharpe’s void

The retirement of Nathan Sharpe threatens to leave a huge hole for the Wallabies but it could open the door to a Test spot for Cadeyrn Neville when the Lions come calling this summer. [more]

Neville aims to fill Sharpe’s void

The retirement of Nathan Sharpe threatens to leave a huge hole for the Wallabies but it could open the door to a Test spot for Cadeyrn Neville when the Lions come calling this summer.

Sharpe finally retired after the Wallabies’ win over Wales last month having initially intended to call it quits in July and then October of last year.

Replacing a player with 117 caps who was voted his country’s best performer last term will be no easy feat but Neville is hopeful of persuading Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans that he can step in to Sharpe’s substantial shoes.

"Not that I'd say I'd be filling all the roles that he had in the team but it does open the door a little bit," Neville, who travelled to Argentina and then Europe with the Wallabies in late 2012 without winning a cap, told Rugby Heaven.

"It's not going to be easy to get a spot but I'll be giving it my best.

Google Ad Manager – In Article

"It's something you've got to manage in your head a little bit but it's definitely exciting to be in the Wallabies set-up. You've just got to cool your jets a little bit until you get on to the field."

One man backing Neville to make the step up is former Wallaby World Cup winning hero Matt Cockbain.

Now an assistant coach at Neville’s Melbourne Rebels, Cockbain won 63 caps for his country and featured as a replacement in all three Tests against the Lions 12 years ago.

Cockbain has been impressed with what he’s seen from Rebels pair Neville and Hugh Pyle in pre-season training and he reckons the former in particular has what it takes to be part of a similar success against Britain and Ireland’s elite this time around.

"A highlight of my career was that series win (over the Lions). It was like we'd won the World Cup," said Cockbain.

"Sharpie had that real leadership that is going to be hard to replace…but I think Cadeyrn and Hugh can challenge this year.

"Cadeyrn has the right attitude and he does everything at 100 per cent and Hugh had a few things in his game that he needed to fix that could be shown up at Test level but he's been working hard on those things."

Previous story What lies ahead: Western Force
Next story Habana to join Toulon
Download