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Thread: Sharpe takes leaf out of Bok captain's book

  1. #1
    Immortal Contributor
    travelling_gerry's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    Perth, Western Australia, Australia

    Sharpe takes leaf out of Bok captain's book

    Sharpe takes leaf out of Bok captain's book

    IN his autobiography Captain in the Cauldron, Springboks skipper John Smit revealed the rift between South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White and second-rower Victor Matfield.

    "For some reason Jake perpetually had a problem with Victor and vice versa," Smit wrote.
    "Jake was always on about Victor not hitting enough rucks and not working hard enough in the tight-loose, but they sorted out their issues in the end."
    Reading Smit's account of the relationship between White and Matfield, I was reminded of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and second-rower Nathan Sharpe.
    Two years ago, in Deans' first season in charge, Sharpe was on the outer selection-wise but there was no rift between them.
    A permanent fixture in Australian teams since making his Test debut against France in 2002 and the John Eales Medal winner in 2007, Sharpe was almost one of the first permanent casualties of the Deans era.

    Sharpe was dropped for Australia's two-Test tour of South Africa in 2008 and, although he joined the team as an injury replacement for Dan Vickerman, did not play any part.
    One of the premier lineout forwards in the world, Sharpe was intelligent, skilful and mobile, but Deans demanded more of him than any of his previous coaches.
    He wanted Sharpe to be more physical and aggressive at the contact zone, an area he believes is where the game is won and lost.
    Matfield has the benefit of playing alongside uncompromising Springboks second-rower Bakkies Botha, whose physicality complements his ball skills and mobility.
    Similarly, Sharpe had the advantage of playing with the highly physical Vickerman until he left at the end of 2008 to study economics at Cambridge University.
    With Vickerman, and also Hugh McMeniman, gone there was even more need for Sharpe to play a physical game.
    No doubt Sharpe muttered darkly under his breath about Deans at the time, wishing the Kiwi had stayed on the Canterbury Plains.
    But Sharpe responded to the challenge, showing his character and commitment. He was recalled to the Test team on the Wallabies' tour of Europe at the end of 2008 and the change in his approach was evident; at one stage he played with a broken hand.
    It could be argued Deans only went back to Sharpe initially because he did not have other options, but he is now the first second-rower picked.
    Sharpe followed up an outstanding Super 14 campaign with the Western Force with a man-of-the-match performance in Australia's 49-3 win against Fiji in Canberra on Saturday night.
    While it was not a first-choice Fiji, its forwards were big and brutal, yet Sharpe took the ball up time and again in the face of ferocious defence, bending the line and creating space for attackers.
    And he has lost none of his lineout jumping, passing and ball-running skills. No one would have been more pleased than Deans, who will need Sharpe to reproduce that form against England and Ireland and the Tri-Nations.
    Sharpe is now just four Tests short of equalling John Eales's record (84) as the most-capped Australian second-rower.
    That would be a wonderful achievement for Sharpe, who made his Super rugby debut for Queensland against the Hurricanes in 1998, playing alongside Eales.
    If Sharpe had not responded to Deans' demands the way he did, it could have all been over for him two years ago. But after nine years in the gold jersey, Sharpe is heading into what could be the most rewarding time of his career.

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  2. #2
    Champion Contributor WF1964's Avatar
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    Great Southern
    And he's ours!

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  3. #3
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    Burgs's Avatar
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    Country WA
    Finally watched the Test last night, he was outstanding against Fiji.

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    "Bloody oath we did!"

    Nathan Sharpe, Legend.

  4. #4
    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Sharpie played a true (and typical) captain's knock in that game, He's rapidly eclipsing Rocky as the got to leader in the pack if not on the field........right up to the point where aside from calling Elsom when issuing warnings etc the ref pretty much dealt with Sharpie all night.

    Maybe it was just that Sharpie is used to dealing with the ref and forgot he wasn't the captain.

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    C'mon the

  5. #5
    Legend Contributor Thequeerone's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    I felt that too - Rocky seemed to have lost it for a patch and Sharpie just picked it up - We're lucky here in the West

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    61 years between Grand Slams Was the wait worth it - Ya betta baby

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