Sharpe joins Wallabies coaching unit
April 30, 2013
Nathan Sharpe never made an appearance for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions © Getty Images
Nathan Sharpe has signed on to assist the Wallabies forwards ahead of this year's British & Irish Lions tour of Australia.
Although Australia's most capped forward never received the opportunity to play a Test against the combined side himself, 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, with a particular emphasis on the line-out.
"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 said.
Although he harbours no regrets at having retired, 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 said. "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 said. "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 and will join the Wallabies camp during each Test week for the duration of the Lions series, assisting forwards coach Andrew Blades.
Another notable addition to the coaching staff is Scott Murphy, who takes over in the strength and conditioning field. An Australian, Murphy returns home after successfully overseeing the fitness program at English Premiership leaders Saracens, who featured in last weekend's European Cup semi-finals.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton