Sharpe: Ripia ordeal is in the past
January 17, 2012
Nathan Sharpe will add to his 147 Super Rugby appearances in the new season © Getty Images
Western Force second-row Nathan Sharpe claims the side have put the controversy surrounding Willie Ripia's departure behind them ahead of the new season.
Ripia left the Force last week under a cloud after he tendered his resignation following allegations that he was stealing from his team-mates. The half-back has now returned to New Zealand as he attempts to deal with his gambling problem.
Veteran lock Sharpe is adamant the side have put the whole ordeal behind them but also emphasised the need for Ripia to seek help.
"I think first and foremost the most important thing is that Willie gets the help that he needs to get through this situation. It's a shame that it came to pass the way it did but the group has moved on," Sharpe said. "The trust in the group is the most important thing and certainly that is something that needs to be paramount in this team and that's what we're working towards."
And Sharpe is relishing the chance to run out in another Super Rugby season which starts on February 24 against the Brumbies for the Perth-based franchise. Sharpe already has 147 matches to his name and is the most capped player in Super Rugby history and is adamant the side will be pushing for honours come the end of the season.
"That's where we want to get to," Sharpe said. "I think some of the guys that we've brought in this year mean we have an incredibly talented group and getting to know them and getting to know each other's playing abilities quickly is the focus initially.
"The start of the season in Super Rugby is a critical time for any team and certainly for us we've been guilty of slow starts to the year so we want to make a fast start to the season and go from there."
Sharpe has also claimed he has not ruled out the option of playing another season with the Force after the end of the current campaign. "Physically I feel really good," Sharpe said. "For me, I've been lucky with injuries thus far.
"The body feels good and I'm still enjoying playing and I just have to assess all the factors that come into my life. I'll make a call probably very early on in the season and that's something I'll come to pass in the next couple of months."
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