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Sharpe to stay on for Australia


Nathan Sharpe has postponed his retirement to play for Australia

Nathan Sharpe has postponed his retirement to play for Australia

Nathan Sharpe has postponed his retirement to play for Australia

Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe has agreed to extend his Australia career until the end of the Rugby Championship after skipper James Horwill was ruled out for the rest of the year.

Sharpe, a 104-Test veteran, was set to hang up his boots at the end of the Super Rugby season following the Western Force's final regular-season game against the Crusaders on July 14.

But coach Robbie Deans has convinced the 34-year-old to hang around for Tests against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina before retiring in early October.

With Horwill sidelined by a hamstring injury until next season and veteran Dan Vickerman unlikely to play again due to a chronic leg problem, Sharpe's decision is a significant boost for the Wallabies.

He is expected to formally commit by putting pen to paper on Wednesday, however Deans broke the news shortly after announcing his team to face Wales in the third and final Test.

"Sharpey's indicated he's willing and keen to continue into the Rugby Championship, so that's good news for the group," Deans said.

Asked if the former John Eales Medal winner took much convincing, Deans replied: "Obviously it is a big decision for Sharpey because it was a conscious choice of his to communicate that he was going to retire, intending to retire, and that's a big decision in any man's life, particularly a bloke who's played 100 Tests.

"So he's made plans around his life beyond the game and he's had to put them on hold and that's never straightforward. He's been preparing for this moment for some time which is a good thing and a great example to young players, so he's deferred that and that's a significant commitment from him."

Sharpe is not intending to go on the annual end-of-season tour of the northern hemisphere but Deans seemingly still holds some hope of convincing the big lock to play on even longer: "It won't be happening, is the initial indication," he said.

Deans says the decision to elevate giant Waratahs lock Sitaleki Timani to the starting side this weekend is part of planning for life without Sharpe.