Belfast Telegraph

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Force upbeat over Sharpe

Western Force are hopeful of having captain Nathan Sharpe fit for the start of the Super Rugby season despite the lock being ruled out for up to six weeks following hernia surgery.

The club's medical staff took the decision to have the operation done now to give the veteran Wallabies lock the best possible chance of being fit to face the Reds on February 20.

"Nathan first brought it to our attention on Friday morning and we acted decisively to have him operated on Saturday," said head coach Richard Graham. "The length of recovery is between four to six weeks and in this case we believe we've given ourselves the best chance to have Nathan available for the first competition game against the Queensland Reds on February 20."

He added: "Our medical and strength and conditioning staff have mapped out a return to play programme which will see Nathan make a progression from walking to light cardio then to training and ultimately full contact..

"Nathan has just recorded a career-best body composition score and under the guidance of our conditioning team he was in fantastic condition. They'll ensure he comes back ready to go."

Should Sharpe, 32, be unavailable for the start of the revamped SANZAR tournament Graham will be able to turn to Sam Wykes, Tom Hocking or Phoenix Battye to fill the vacancy, or he may switch back-rower Ben McCalman to the second row after he impressed in the position when moved there last season.

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