Rugby: Sharpe wins John Eales Medal

Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe with the John Eales Medal. Photo / Getty Images
Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe with the John Eales Medal. Photo / Getty Images

Australia's latest rugby captain Nathan Sharpe has continued his incredible swan song season by winning the John Eales Medal, the Wallabies Players' Player award, on Thursday evening.

Sharpe, who twice during the year postponed his international retirement, polled 259 votes from his peers over the course of the Wallabies' last 19 Test matches stretching back to the 2011 World Cup.

Openside flanker David Pocock (235), led the field by a massive 93 points following Australia's World Cup campaign, but missed their last six matches of the 2012 campaign due to a knee injury.

Western Force second-rower Sharpe, who also won the medal in 2007, ensured a forward took out the prestigious prize for the ninth time in 11 years.

He assumed captaincy duties of the Wallabies after three leaders, James Horwill, halfback Will Genia and Pocock, all suffered injuries during the course of the campaign.

"It was very hard to lose the three previous captains in one hit," Sharpe said.

"I've just enjoyed it for what it is.

"You know when it's coming to the end - roughly at least."

Sharpe, 34, also won the inaugural Spirit of Rugby award and the Australia's Choice title.

In the course of 2012, Sharpe also became the most-capped second-rower in Test history, surpassing South Africa's Victor Matfield and has amassed 112 Test appearances heading into his final four-match tour with the Wallabies in Europe.

He is only the second man behind openside flanker George Smith to win the medal twice and also eclipsed the former Brumbies back-rower's previous record tally of the most Test appearances by an Australian forward.

Outstanding Test rookie Michael Hooper, who finished third in the medal voting on 171, picked up the Rookie of the Year title.

New Zealand-born Steve Walsh was named Referee of the Year.

Former touch football star Emily Cherry took out the Women's Player of the Year.

Former Australian Rugby Union chairman Dick McGruther was the latest recipient of the Joe French Award, which acknowledges high-profile individuals who have made a significant contribution to Australian rugby.

Captain Ed Jenkins took out the Sevens Player of the Year.

- AAP

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