Nathan Sharpe will play on Australia’s rugby tour to Europe next month after the Wallabies’ most-experienced forward deferred his retirement for the second time this year.
Sharpe, a 34-year-old second-row forward, made himself available for four more matches following a request from the Australian Rugby Union’s Chief Executive Officer, John O’Neill, and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, the ARU said in a statement.
Sharpe had originally planned to retire at the end of the Super Rugby season before agreeing to play through the inaugural Rugby Championship and next week’s final Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand. He took over as team captain following injuries to David Pocock and Will Genia, the back-ups to first-choice skipper James Horwill, who hasn’t played since May.
“From a playing perspective he’s been world-class throughout 2012,” O’Neill said. “The way he’s taken to the leadership in the face of adversity with the side losing three previous captains to injury has been magnificent.”
Sharpe has played 111 Tests for Australia, a record for a forward, and led the injury-ravaged team to second place in the inaugural Rugby Championship behind winner New Zealand.
The Wallabies face the All Blacks in Brisbane on Oct. 20 before departing for Europe, where they play France, England and Italy on successive Saturdays in November. Sharpe’s final match is scheduled to be the Dec. 1 Test against Wales in Cardiff.
“The opportunity to lead the Wallabies again on what will be a challenging but exciting tour was too tempting,” Sharpe said. “It is not easy to say no to your country.”