Super 14
Sharpe focused on Force success
January 13, 2009
Western Force captain Nathan Sharpe during a Super 14 match against the Chiefs, May 3 2008
Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe believes that his side can make it past their recent controversies and enjoy a successful season © Getty Images

Western Force captain Nathan Sharpe is confident that his side can get past the recent controversy surrounding coach John Mitchell and enjoy a successful Super 14 campaign.

Mitchell was placed on "restricted duties" at the end of December amid rumours of a breakdown between coach and players. The franchise was also plagued by rumours about a high-profile move for playmaker Matt Giteau, although for now at least he appears to be staying put in Perth.

The recommendations of Robert Anderson QC, the retired Supreme Court judge who undertook the enquiry into Mitchell's actions, are expected this month although Sharpe insists that he and his team-mates have already moved on.

"We've had quite a few controversies over time and we've dealt with them very well," Sharpe told AAP. "The playing group as a whole is one of the tightest that I've been involved with and I've got all the confidence in the world that it's not going to be a problem.

"The timing's not great... but you've got to make the most of what you are given, and that's what we've been presented with. The players are doing as much as they can on the field to make sure we're ready to play.

"The thing that's happening here is we want to put processes in place to make us a better team and that's what's happening at the moment."

As one of the senior players at the club Sharpe has been keen to keep a lid on the controversy as much as possible so as to not adversely affect their pre-season.

"We've spoken about that and I guess everything that's happening off the field is only going to be as big a distraction as we allow it to become," he said. "We've worked very hard over the last week to make sure that it impacts very little on what happens on the field.

"The process that's going on at the moment is kept well away from the players and that's working well for us."

The Force's pre-season gets underway with a warm-up match against the Crusaders on January 23, before their season kicks off proper against the Blues on February 13.

Sharpe will miss the first pre-season game as he is still recovering from a broken thumb sustained while playing for the Wallabies against France in November, but will be back in action against the Blues.


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