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Rattled Aussies suffer Sharpe injury

There was a double blow for Australia yesterday ahead of tomorrow's Test against Ireland when they lost experienced second-row Nathan Sharpe and dropped from third to fourth in the world rankings.

Sharpe, the 32-year-old who has won 82 caps for the Wallabies, was withdrawn from the team after suffering a back spasm, but coach Robbie Deans has an experienced option in 50-capper Mark Chisholm to bring in alongside Dean Mumm.

“It's a great opportunity for Mark, one that he's pretty excited about,” said Deans. “We had a conversation the other day.

“He became a 50-cap Test player last week, so that conversation was essentially along the lines that his apprenticeship, essentially, is over. It's time to start getting a return.”

As regards the drop in the world rankings, Deans did not believe it reflected the quality of Australia's performances.

“There are an awful lot of contributing factors,” said the Wallabies coach. “Essentially, in terms of the rankings, we’ve dropped a couple of games we shouldn't have and that's hurt us.

“You look at Scotland last year, last weekend against England, a couple of kicks go over and it’s a different result.

“Ireland at Croke Park, a last-minute try.. if we turn those around, and that's a knack we have to master, of getting up and winning the games that are there to be won, if we'd be successful in that, we'd be sitting on seven wins in succession.”

While the loss to England has provided the Australians with extra motivation this week, Deans acknowledges that the Irish have plenty of incentive also, as they bid to halt a run of four defeats.

“They won't be happy with their recent history either,” added Deans.

“But you get what you deserve, ultimately, and we have the opportunity to do something this weekend and it's probably a good thing on the back of last week.”

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