Rugby: French out to give Sharpe farewell to forget

Nathan Sharpe. Photo / Getty Images
Nathan Sharpe. Photo / Getty Images

French captain Pascal Pape has warned retiring Wallabies skipper Nathan Sharpe that he will want to forget his last clash with Les Bleus in Paris on Sunday.

Sharpe, 34, hangs up his boots at the end of the four-Test European tour that begins against a French team desperate to claw their way back into the top four of the world rankings ahead of next month's Rugby World Cup draw.

Pape, who captained the young French side in the one win, one loss tour of Argentina in June in the absence of injured flanker Thierry Dusautoir, was asked what he thought of 112-Test fellow lock Sharpe on Wednesday.

Rather than launch into a glowing praise of the popular Australian, Pape's response was straight to the point.

"We expect that he won't have too good a memory of his last game in Paris," said 32-year-old Pape, who had a chuckle with the team translator after making the comment.

While he hopes the Australians have a bad night in Paris, Pape did reveal he has enormous respect for the Wallabies.

"Even with a team sometimes with difficulties in the four series (Rugby Championship) they finished second ... They are the only team able to challenge the All Blacks," he said.

Pape, who was an integral part of the French team that lost 8-7 to the All Blacks in last year's World Cup final, dismissed any suggestions the new-look French would be looking to gain some revenge on the Wallabies who beat them by a record score of 59-16 last time they clashed in Paris in 2010.

"... I believe the French team is looking ahead ... The future is Saturday. We are not looking back," he said.

"Most of the squad have changed now, even the staff. So we don't really focus on that defeat."

France are battling a World Cup hangover after slumping to fourth in the Six Nations, which resulted in them slumping to fifth in the international rankings.

If France lose to Australia they could slip further away from fourth with sixth-placed Wales a chance of going past them if they can beat Argentina in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Rugby World Cup draw will take place in London on December 3 with the International Rugby Board's world rankings used to rank the 12 directly qualified sides into three bands for the 2015 tournament in England.

The top four teams will avoid each other until the knockout stages.

-AAP

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