Australian Rugby
Sharpe delays retirement - again
ESPN Staff
October 11, 2012
Australia's Nathan Sharpe moves into position, Barbarians v Austraila, Twickenham, England, November 26, 2011
Nathan Sharpe is set to extend his playing career to include the Wallabies' end of year tour © PA Photos

Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe has agreed to delay his retirement and lead Australia on their end of year tour of Europe.

The 34-year-old looked set to bow out following the Wallabies' Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand in Brisbane next month but has been persuaded to extend his playing career with Robbie Dean's squad currently plagued by injuries.

Sharpe had planned to retire following the Super Rugby season but agreed to play on during the Rugby Championship with Deans having lost the services of second rows James Horwill and Dan Vickerman to a knee injury and retirement respectively. He was also rewarded with the Wallabies' captaincy when flanker David Pocock and scrum-half Will Genia were also struck down with injuries.

"Playing for Australia is something I have never taken for granted," Sharpe said. "As such, to be asked to continue beyond the deadline I had set for myself was both flattering but also a request that was very difficult to turn down.

"I have never known a season where the Wallabies have faced such adversity as we have this year. To show the spirit and character that the team has is a mark of how the group has grown, both individually and collectively, and I have enjoyed playing my part in that.

"The opportunity to lead the Wallabies again on what will be a challenging but exciting tour was too tempting. It is not easy to say no to your country."

Deans added: "You only have to look at what he has achieved with the group since he took over as captain. His influence has been immense, he is arguably playing the best rugby of his career but, most importantly, he is enjoying the experience.

"Sharpey's presence and leadership has been a constant throughout the year - one of the few aspects of continuity that we've had through a season that is probably without precedent in terms of disruption.

"For that reason, it was straight forward asking him to continue, both following on from the June Tests when he had originally planned to retire, and then again following the Rugby Championship.

"While he has a range of other commitments in his life, and touring means putting them on hold again, I had no doubt that he would be keen to continue."

The 111-Test veteran will now call time on his career after the December 2 Test against Wales at Millennium Stadium. The Wallabies will also play France, England and Italy on their annual end-of-season tour.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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