Dear Nathan Sharpe: the Lions are coming

Frank O'Keeffe Roar Rookie

By Frank O'Keeffe, Frank O'Keeffe is a Roar Rookie

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    Former Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe (Image: AAP)

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    Good authority says that, occasionally, various Wallabies read articles posted on The Roar. Here’s hoping Nathan Sharpe is one of them.

    Dear Nathan Sharpe,

    The British and Irish Lions are coming to Australia in 2013.

    I, and many other Wallaby supporters, am of the opinion that Australia stands a better chance of winning the series if you continue your international career until the end of the Lions tour.

    It was widely reported that you were going to retire after the 2011 World Cup. Fortunately for Australia and the Wallabies you continued to play and became only the second person in Wallaby history to win the John Eales medal for a second time.

    I am of the opinion you are good enough to win a third John Eales medal before you retire.

    Furthermore, your leadership has been invaluable to the Wallabies this year. Your captaincy has been fantastic during times Horwill, Pocock, and Genia were (and still are) injured.

    I regard your captaincy as the best Australia has had since George Gregan retired.

    In the estimation of many, it’s preferable to have yourself, James Horwill, and Kane Douglas available for the Lions series.

    You are playing fantastic rugby during the twilight of your career, and the Wallabies will suffer when you retire.

    Please give consideration to extending your international career, so that you may play against the British and Irish Lions.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • Roar Guru

      November 19th 2012 @ 6:36am
      Who Needs Melon said | November 19th 2012 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      Have to disagree with you on this one. Happy for Sharpy to go out on top, on relatively his own terms, be remembered well and now finally spend more time with his young family.

      But I think it’s not just good for him – I think we will be better off in the long run not hanging on to ageing champs for too long. It’s not ‘too long’ right now but I’ve a feeling it would go downhill fast for Nathan if he were to continue to push it. And we should have Horwill back and some young guys who have now had some international exposure. We should be investing in them.

      • November 19th 2012 @ 8:52am
        nickoldschool said | November 19th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report


      • November 19th 2012 @ 10:02am
        Harry said | November 19th 2012 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        +2, great though it is to see Sharpe going out on a high, holding up the Cook Cup on Saturday must have been very sweet for him.

        One of Simmons, Douglas, Pyle, Carter or Neville needs to step up to run the lineout, and be effective round the field. Much will depend on SuperRugby form, they have to consistently measure up in that competition, particularly against the SA and NZ sides. Simmons, derided often on this forum, has done a lot of hard learning in the past 2 Super Rugby seasons and held his own against excellent linout forwards like Matfield (arguablythe best lineout forward of his generation) and that gives him an advantage. Pyle, Doulgas and Carter have the potential to do the same.

        With Timani and hopefully a fully fit Horwill competing for the 4 spot, we are well covered.

        • November 19th 2012 @ 10:37am
          Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | November 19th 2012 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Agree too.

          I love Sharpie and what he has done for us. But he now reminds me of a boxer on his last legs and deserves to be allowed to go out in style.

          • November 19th 2012 @ 11:17am
            nickoldschool said | November 19th 2012 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            Fox have been showing the mini report they did with him and his kids prior to the tour. I was amazed by how loyal he was to accept touring with the group despite having been dumped by Deans before the rwc semi final. Said it was tough to accept and painful at the time but didn’t hold any grudges. What a bloke he is! I for one would have held grudges!!! Legend

            But yes, time to go and bring on some new blood. Horwill, Douglas and Timani are ready for the job I think.

            • November 19th 2012 @ 11:44am
              kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 11:44am | ! Report

              Except nos, none of those three really are lineout locks….they all really occupy the other, grunt lock, position…

              • November 19th 2012 @ 12:53pm
                nickoldschool said | November 19th 2012 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

                Douglas and Horwill can jump all right Kpm. I would give Timani- Horwill a go tbh.

              • November 19th 2012 @ 12:58pm
                kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

                nos but jump against the best jumpers in the world?

              • Roar Guru

                November 19th 2012 @ 12:59pm
                B-Rock said | November 19th 2012 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

                NOS – I think KPM is referring to calling (and generally running) the lineouts rather than just jumping. The lineout can quickly fall apart without leadership, particularly with TPN throwing!

    • November 19th 2012 @ 6:53am
      patonga said | November 19th 2012 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      Well if he is to play on he should stay captain as he is the most senior player in the team.But he wants to retire so let him go out on a high note it is his call.

    • November 19th 2012 @ 8:52am
      kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      Agree, Sharpe would almost certainly be captain and his lineout security could be a key to victory in the Lions.

      Besides, a player normally retires because of some decline in form, whereas the reverse has happened with Sharpe and he is better than ever.

      Also, most men retire at 65 or above. Sharpe is thinking of retiring at 34. Even if he played to the next World Cup he would only be 37 (Brad Thorn at 36 and Simon Shaw at 38 played at the last World Cup). The normal rules on a player declining with age do not at all apply to locks, perhaps because of their height and the requirements of their position.

      He is being paid half a million a year to do what many would dream of doing (each year further sets up the rest of his life financially too).

      The later phases of Sharpe’s career often involved being in and out of the team, but this year he has not only solidified a starting place but is captain.

      If he doesn’t think you can play at a World Cup in you late 30s, he should look at Brad Thorn.

      The Western Force as well as the Wallabies could well use him and he was jointly responsible for moving out Richard Graham.

      The Lions are the one challenge he hasn’t faced.

      But the 2015 World Cup would be a great moment to retire.

      Sharpe should abandon the declarations of retirement each year and just play year by year until the next World Cup. If he is this good now, he will probably be just as good then given that locks don’t lose their abilities that quickly.

      He should play each year at a time and only consider retiring before the next World Cup if there is a drastic loss of form, which is unlikely.

      The ARU should also help by giving him generous incentives.

      Why leave when you’re at the top and there’s three more great years ahead?

      • November 19th 2012 @ 10:50am
        rl said | November 19th 2012 @ 10:50am | ! Report

        I completely disagree – the man has been a warrior and deserves to go out on his own terms.

        On a personal level, he’s spent a long time away from his young family, and the time has probably come for a more normal home life. Probably got that one last “leave pass” for this year internationals, particuarly as he had the “C” beside his name. Its not that he couldn’t play another RWC, maybe he just doesn’t want to. Draws comparison with Pat Rafter – if the hunger isn’t there, well its just not there. Brad Thorn is a pretty unique specimen, and (with all due respect to him) I suspect he sees rugby/league as his career.

        On a professional level, there is probably no assurance that the post-rugby career options now on the table for Sharpie would still be there in a year or two. The money being offered to him probably rivals what he is earning at present, but without the prospect of it diminishing as he ages, or being snatched away by one cruel injury.

        And finally, on a rugby level, although Sharpie is a deserved winner of the JE medal, to be frank he didn’t really have a lot of competition this year, right? (If Hooper had a full internation season it might have been different) Sharpie’s inconsistent displays on this current tour betray that lack of hunger he is probably experiencing.

        A fit Horwill, leading contenders in Douglas,Timani and Simmons, and promising up-and-comers like Neville, Pyle, and Fardy mean our lock stocks are looking pretty good. Sharpie is such a team player he probably thinks that staying on another year will just impede their development.

        Go out leaving the crowd asking for more I say! Enjoy your retirement great man.

        • November 19th 2012 @ 11:03am
          kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 11:03am | ! Report

          rl I don’t mean that Sharpe owes Australian rugby more, but that for HIM it would be good to carry on.

          It looks like there’s plenty of hunger there at the moment.

          Simon Shaw was another lock performing well at that age.

          I don’t think Sharpe has been inconsistent at all. Reliable in the lineout and everywhere in the loose.

          None of the options mentioned provide what Sharpe does: none of the up and comers are outstanding and Douglas is a grunt lock and not a lineout lock and so doesn’t occupy the same territory. In 2011 Horwill had his worst international season and was unimpressive, and given the extent of his injury this year you can’t even count on his being fit let alone on his 2010 form in 2013. I’m not saying he won’t, but that you can’t count on it at all.

          I’m sure his career options would be the same in three years as now.

          Two or three years ago, Sharpe talked about playing on as long as Brad Thorn and it was only when he was left out of the World Cup squad that he became disatisfied and wanted retirement. Now that he is not only back as first choice lock but also captain, all the allurements to continue are in place.

          • November 19th 2012 @ 11:29am
            rl said | November 19th 2012 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            KPM, you’ve pretty much proven my essential point. He’s going out leaving them asking for more – better that than have people thinking he lingered too long.

            Its nice that you are sure his career options will be the same in 3 years. That seems like a bankable guarantee, as opposed to the signed contract he no doubt has in his pocket. You might need to work on convincing his wife and family…

            • November 19th 2012 @ 11:43am
              kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 11:43am | ! Report

              In general I think it’s never good to go out when on top because you could well cut your career short unnecessarily by several years.

              Let’s be honest, famous players get job in consulting/business not because of their credentials but their fame and that would be the same in three years.

              I just don’t think Sharpe’s play will get much worse in the next three years. His workrate is so high now, and his lineout jumping too pun intended.

              • November 19th 2012 @ 12:36pm
                rl said | November 19th 2012 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                I suspect he’s thinking about family KPM – when I was younger and no kids, the idea of lots of travel for work was exciting. Not anymore. If he can make good money, see his family more, and not deal with the aches and pains (or annoying self-important teeenage team mates!), seems like a no-brainer to me.

                And who’s to say his cache would be as high in 3 years if he loses his place in the team or they perform woefully.

              • November 19th 2012 @ 12:38pm
                kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                No idea about his personal life rl, would be pure speculation on my part.

              • November 19th 2012 @ 12:53pm
                rl said | November 19th 2012 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

                but its not pure speculatation about his form and career options in 3 years time? Try pure hypocracy.

              • November 19th 2012 @ 1:00pm
                kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

                No, an opinion based on an assessement of his playing at the moment, the trajectory of his career, and how a lock ages. No such information on his family.

                It wouldn’t in any case be hypocrisy.

              • November 19th 2012 @ 3:17pm
                rl said | November 19th 2012 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

                Boy Professor, when you put it that way it sure does sound scientific (not!)

        • November 19th 2012 @ 1:00pm
          redsnut said | November 19th 2012 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

          rl – Sharpe has been THE most consistent player in the team.
          When has he not been?

          • November 19th 2012 @ 3:25pm
            rl said | November 19th 2012 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

            That’s not saying much redsnut – they have ALL been terribly inconsistent this year (aside from Hooper – after a couple of games to get a feel for things, he’s been amazing).

            Over the last 10 years – quite possibly yes. But by his high standards, the last couple of years have been a bit up and down. Managed to lift himself this year for his swansong, but I reckon 2011 was bad for him (oddly enough, I though he was great when he came on against SAF in Wellington during RWC, then Robbie left him out). Maybe if his form during 2011 was as it has been this year, he may have felt differently about announcing his retirement?

            Don’t get me wrong – great player, great leader, great legacy.

    • November 19th 2012 @ 9:31am
      RedBaron said | November 19th 2012 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Stay onboard Sharpie for just one more year!!! You’re also a fantasy football king. 34 points without fail each week!

    • November 19th 2012 @ 9:40am
      kingplaymaker said | November 19th 2012 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      This article should be top of the articles on this side of the page because of its crucial importance.

    • November 19th 2012 @ 11:04am
      s.t.rine said | November 19th 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      A lot depends on how Dingo brings on the new faces….assuming he’s still hired.
      Next two matches may decide.
      Sharpie brings experience, maturity, example to Test matches & we may need him although looking at British Isles
      performance right now THEY could use him
      S T R

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