Graham shock at Sharpe omission
August 2, 2011
Sharpe - along with Matt Giteau - have much to prove to the Wallabies selectors © Getty Images
Western Force coach Richard Graham insists Nathan Sharpe remains one of the world's premier locks despite his shock omission from the Wallabies squad set to take on the All Blacks on Saturday.
Sharpe was one of the Wallabies' most consistent performers in 2010 and followed up with another strong campaign for the Force this season. But, after ineffectual performances against Samoa and South Africa, his dream of a third World Cup now appears in serious doubt.
"I certainly am surprised but at the same time I haven't spoken to him and wasn't part of his conversation with the Wallabies selectors," Graham said. "His non-selection will be something a lot of West Australians will be talking about this morning.
"I thought he played very well for us in Super Rugby and did everything we asked him to do. In my view he sits up there in the top three or four locks in the world.
"Certainly in the southern hemisphere we're spoilt in a sense from what we've seen with the likes of (Brad) Thorn, (Victor) Matfield and (Bakkies) Botha - and Sharpe's up there with those guys."
While Sharpe now seems to be on the outer with less than three weeks until the 30-man World Cup squad is announced, Graham says it would be a major mistake to leave the 95-Test veteran at home.
"I think the two young boys that have been selected - (Rob) Simmons and (James) Horwill - were fantastic in Super Rugby. They did a very good job," Graham said. "And Nathan's form here is well documented. Those three locks going forward into the World Cup would probably be the best three locks in any team in world rugby.
"I think any guy with his experience, his personality - he does want to lead and help people, particularly in a very intense tournament over six or eight weeks - he'll be invaluable. World Cup time I'd expect him to be in that squad of 30, but right now having not spoken to him, it's really hard to speculate on the reasons why he's not in the side."
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