Rugby: Wallaby Sharpe to retire

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

Most-capped Wallabies second-rower Nathan Sharpe is to retire from all competitive rugby at the end of the 2012 Super Rugby season.

Sharpe, who turns 34 on February 26, said he wanted to end speculation about his future and ensure his focus was only on helping his Western Force team to make the Super Rugby finals for the first time.

Sharpe has played 101 Tests for Australia, making him the equal fourth most capped Wallabies player, behind only George Gregan, George Smith and Stephen Larkham and equal with David Campese.

He debuted in 2002 and was still in the Wallabies ranks last year, playing at the World Cup in New Zealand.

"It is an emotional time for me,'' said Sharpe in a statement on Friday.

"It's one of those decisions you mull over and think `are you going too early or too late' and I wasn't really sure of that until recently.

"I've been incredibly lucky right through my career to have been involved with some great people and great teams.

"I've got one more shot at winning a title and I don't intend on fading away, I want to finish with my best Super Rugby season yet, that's the way I want to exit the game.''

An inaugural marquee signing for the Western Force from Queensland, Sharpe has captained the franchise since they started in Super Rugby in 2006 and is entering his 15th season in top flight rugby.

Coach Richard Graham recently began the transition by handing the Force leadership to Wallabies flanker David Pocock.

"I've had a wonderful time playing rugby, have seen some pretty special things over my time and cherished every single moment of it,'' said Sharpe.

"It's not the end right now, I still have some goals I want to achieve this season.''

"Coming to Perth was the best decision I made in my career.

"I've had an amazing time and have been part of the strongest support network I've experienced in rugby.''

While spending more quality time with his two young boys is high on the agenda, Sharpe will also make a move into the resource industry and will stay in touch with the game as a media commentator.

"The career opportunities being made available are amazing and will give me a completely new challenge to focus on after such a long time playing rugby,'' Sharpe said.

"I've got a keen interest in the resource sector and being in Perth has definitely allowed me to meet a lot of people in the industry.''

- AAP

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