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Sharpe in doubt for Super Rugby opener
ESPNscrum Staff
January 24, 2011

Western Force captain Nathan Sharpe could miss the start of the new Super Rugby season after undergoing laparoscopic surgery on Saturday to repair a hernia.

Sharpe will be out for four to six weeks, with the Force's first game of the inaugural 15-team competition to come on February 20 against the Queensland Reds.

Force coach Richard Graham said the club and player decided to get the procedure out of the way as soon as possible rather than risk leaving it until later in the season or worse, around the time of the Wallabies' World Cup campaign.

"Nathan first brought it to our attention on Friday morning and we acted decisively to have him operated on Saturday," Graham said. "The length of recovery is between four to six weeks and in this case we believe we've given ourselves the best chance to have Nathan available for the first competition game against the Queensland Reds on February 20."

Sharpe has already begun his road to recovery after being released from hospital on Monday and will follow a specialised program designed to have him back on the field as soon as possible.

"Our medical and strength and conditioning staff has mapped out a return to play program which will see Nathan make a progression from walking to light cardio then to training and ultimately full contact," Graham said. "Nathan has just recorded a career best body composition score and under the guidance of our conditioning team he was in fantastic condition. They'll ensure he comes back ready to go."

The Force will play trial matches starting in a fortnight and Sharpe's absence means the coaching staff can look at second-rowers Sam Wykes, Tom Hockings and youngster Phoenix Battye as well as the versatile Ben McCalman, who is no stranger to playing lock after standing alongside Sharpe on numerous occasions last season.

"Nathan's injury is just part and parcel of sport and you just need to deal with each case individually," Graham said. "We are fortunate to have a depth in the second-row and I have every confidence in those players to take on the roles that will be asked of them during the period Nathan is unavailable."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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