Sharpe looks for big season

Story by Sportal for the ARU
Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 11:39 AM (AEST)

Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe is hoping the 2008 Investec Super 14 season is a successful one for him and his Western Force teammates, especially as it will help to offset the disappointment of the World Cup campaign.

With the loss to England in the quarter-final still fresh in his mind, Sharpe is hoping to use it to his advantage to spur him on with a Force side that is now entering its third season in the competition.

"It takes a bit of time to cope with disappointments like that, but that is life and people have disappointments. You have to look onwards and upwards from there and this next Super 14 season is a huge one for the Western Force and I'm looking forward to the challenges it presents," Sharpe said.

"The World Cup was a big focus for the players involved, but we have to get over that and move onto the next hurdle. For us, there's no better opportunity to taste success than with the Force."

"It's our home, it's where we live, we love all the guys here and it would be a tremendous way to celebrate next year with a good performance."

The 64 Test veteran is also keen to continue with the Wallabies, for at least one more year in 2008.

"I'm under contract next year, so nothing changes for me," he said.

"I'm looking forward to having a pre-season and getting work under my belt, as I don't often get that opportunity. I will be feeling fresh by the time next year rolls around."

Speaking from his first official day of joining the Force's pre-season, in stifling 39-degree heat, Sharpe was impressed with the shape the squad is in and now can't wait to prepare for the first match against the Sharks in Durban on February 15.

"It's just good to be back amongst the boys with the feeling and motivation that everyone has. Everyone is fresh and ready to go and looking really fit," he said.

"All the guys are in fantastic shape already, which is quite unusual for a football team to have so many players turning up in good nick at this stage of the season, still three months away from the first game."

Junior Pelesasa will miss the entire season with a knee injury and Rudi Vedelago has returned home to Queensland, but the rest of the Force squad is present and Sharpe believes can perform well.

"You never like to see guys get serious injuries, but it gives us the opportunity to plan and prepare, and find replacements for guys that are out for the season, like Junior Pelesasa," he said.

"We will find a replacement, but finding one of quality is always going to be the trouble. Junior is a great player, was really starting to find form, so we will miss him, but it gives someone else the opportunity to come and play well."

After narrowly missing a semi-finals berth in the 2007 season, Sharpe is confident the Force can go at least one step further this time around.

"I don't think pressure is the right word. A lot has to do with the group of guys that we have here, they just want to do well and the pressure internally will drive us onto good things," he said.

"We just want to improve. We went close to the semi-finals last year, so if improving means making the top four we would be happy with that. Once you make the top four anything is possible."