Nathan Sharpe joins Wallabies coaching team

Former Western Force and Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe will join the Wallabies
coaching team ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour.

Although Australia’s most capped forward never received the opportunity
to play a Test against the combined side himself; Sharpe has signed on to assist
the Wallaby forwards ahead of this year’s British & Irish Lions tour
of Australia.

The recently retired second rower, who hung up his boots after last year’s
Spring Tour with 116 Test appearances to his name, will lend that experience
to Australia’s preparations for this year’s highly anticipated series;
placing a particular emphasis on the Wallaby lineout.

“It was nice to be asked to be involved. I’m looking forward to
doing all I can to help get the team ready for what is coming,” Sharpe
says.

Although he harbours no regrets at having drawn the curtain down on his playing
career the year before the Lions arrived; Sharpe says the prospect of donning
the track suit again to play his part as a consultant to the coaching staff
was too tempting to turn down.

“It’s a once every 12 years opportunity isn’t it?”
Sharpe says.

“I’d like to have played for Australia against the Lions but it
wasn’t to be. The fact that you can play for 11 seasons at Test level
as I did and not get to play against them shows both how rare the opportunity
is, but also how much of a privilege it will be for the guys that get to represent
the Wallabies in this series.”

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the decision to involve Sharpe was
a straight forward one.

“It’s appropriate,” Deans says.

“Perhaps the only difference from the role he had last year is that he
won’t be putting his boots on. His experience, leadership and tactical
nous will be available to both the playing group and the coaching staff as it
was last year. That’s a great resource for us to have, given the unique
nature of the British & Irish Lions.

“It also provides him with an opportunity he deserves to have an active
role with the Wallabies in what will be a very special series.”

Deans believes Sharpe will seamlessly make the transition from player to coaching
consultant within the team environment.

Sharpe will join the Wallaby camp during each Test week for the duration of
the Lions series, assisting forwards coach Andrew Blades.

He will also continue with his off-field television role, where he is in his
first-year as part of the Fox Sports commentary team.

Last year saw Sharpe retire after an international career which saw him represent
Australia on more occasions than all but one of the 866 players who have appeared
in Tests for the Wallabies.

Only current Australian Rugby Union board member George Gregan, whose record
of 139 Test appearances is a world record, has played for Australia more times
than has Sharpe, who himself bowed out as the sixth most capped player in the
history of the game.

Captain of the Wallabies at the time of standing down, Sharpe played his final
Test as Australia closed 2012 with a 14-12 win over Wales in Cardiff.

He led his country on 10 occasions, six times in 2012, for six wins, a draw
and three defeats.

The win in Cardiff was the 70th that Sharpe had shared in from his 116 Tests.
Only Gregan (93 wins from 139 appearances) featured in more winning Australian
teams.

Although he did play for Queensland in a tour match against the Lions during
the combined side’s last visit in 2001, it was not until the following
year that Sharpe first wore Wallaby Gold, making his Test debut against France
at Melbourne.

Sharpe was a two-time winner of the John Eales Medal during his career.

Another notable addition to the coaching staff is Scott Murphy, who takes over
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