Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Charteris to put Sharpe respect on hold

Luke Charteris, pictured, is hoping Australia captain Nathan Sharpe's career ends in defeat

Luke Charteris will aim to spoil Australia captain Nathan Sharpe's retirement party on Saturday - but his respect for the Wallabies skipper is immense.

Sharpe is set to make his 116th and final Test match appearance at the Millennium Stadium this weekend.

The 34-year-old lock's international career should have been over by now, but he answered the injury-hit Wallabies' SOS for an autumn tour that has seen them beat England and Italy after losing heavily to France. "Is it his last game this time?" said Wales second-row forward Charteris. "He has retired a few times and keeps coming back!"

He added: "Seriously, I've been lucky enough to go up against him a few times, and he is a quality player. He really is one of the standout second-rows of the last 10 or 15 years, and if this is his last game then he has certainly earned his rest."

Charteris and Wales have got it all to do on Saturday as an autumn campaign that has produced successive defeats against Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand reaches its conclusion.

If Wales lose, they will drop outside the world's top eight-ranked teams and be bracketed among the tier three nations in next Monday's 2015 World Cup pool draw, meaning the probability of a punishing group.

And victory would be achieved against an Australian team that has won seven Tests on the bounce against Wales and only lost twice in the fixture since 1987. Five of those victories arrived in the past 13 months, although Wales lost two games by a combined total of just three points on last summer's tour Down Under.

"The games have been pretty close, yet it's 5-0 to Australia and that does not look good," Charteris added. "We know that we are capable of beating them, it is just making sure we nail the little moments that have cost us in the past.

"We know their individual players better than other teams, but it's not a case of knowing what to expect. We still have to do our homework and see what new challenges they have brought into their game.

"It is the last game of a long season for them and their bodies will be tired, but at the back of their minds they know that they are 80 minutes away from being on the beach with their feet up."

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