Emotional day for Sharpe on retirement eve
Retiring Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe isn’t somebody who gets caught in the moment but he couldn’t help being emotional at Friday’s jersey presentation in Cardiff.
Australian Rugby Union (ARU) board member, retired General Peter Cosgrove, presented the jerseys on the eve of Sharpe’s 116th and final Test against Wales.
The Western Force lock admits the traditional ceremony and the captain’s run at Millennium Stadium was a powerful day that struck a chord.
“It was emotional today. It hit me this morning just as we had our jersey presentation. It’s something you can never prepare for fully,” Sharpe said.
“I’m not one for getting caught in the moment but that was a hard session for me to through today.”
Cosgrove told the players to pat Sharpe on the back after the game and not before and to have a “mission focus”.
“I just compartmentalise it and get the job done,” Sharpe said.
The Welsh have lost their past six Tests and Sharpe is wary of the home side who went down 33-10 to New Zealand last weekend.
“I think teams that are in a tough period of time often show good character … like any team who feels backed into a corner, they are going to want to come out and play well.”
Sharpe is the second most capped Wallaby behind George Gregan (139) and is playing Wales for a record 14th time.
Meanwhile, the Welsh are motivated to record a first victory over Australia in six meetings this year, according to assistant coach Shaun Edwards.
Wales have recently endured a torrid time against the Wallabies, losing five times on the trot including the third-place play-off at the World Cup and a three-Test series in Australia in June.
However, that series was a closely-fought contest with the biggest margin in the games eight points (27-19) in the opening Test in Brisbane.
“Obviously we’re very motivated, as we were in the (northern) summer and every time we played against them,” Edwards said.
“I know we didn’t win a Test in the summer but I think it was the best results Wales have ever had in the southern hemisphere as regards pushing one of the Tri-Nations teams close.
“So we’re as motivated as they’ll be. It’s their last game of what’s been a very long season and we’re extremely motivated to get that elusive win,” Edwards said in reference to the fact that Saturday’s Test will be Australia’s 15th in 12 months.
Wales lock Ian Evans failed a fitness test on a knee problem on Friday and will be replaced by Cardiff Blues forward Lou Reed.© AAP 2013
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