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Nathan Sharpe has again postponed retirement and will be available for Australia's tour to Europe next month.

Updated: Thursday, 11 Oct 2012 10:50 | Comments

Sharpe answers his country's call as they prepare for a testing northern hemisphere tour
Sharpe answers his country's call as they prepare for a testing northern hemisphere tour

Stand-in skipper Nathan Sharpe has answered an SOS call from coach Robbie Deans and agreed to lead Australia on their tour of Europe next month.

Next Saturday's third Bledisloe Test against New Zealand was supposed to be the 34-year-old's last hurrah, but he has agreed to delay his retirement for the second time.

The veteran lock originally planned to hang up the boots at the end of the Super Rugby season but agreed to play in the Rugby Championship after the Wallabies lost James Horwill (knee) and Dan Vickerman (retirement).

Sharpe was one of the Wallabies' best performers this season and was named captain after David Pocock and Will Genia were also struck down by the injury curse.

"Playing for Australia is something I have never taken for granted," Sharpe said.

"As such, to be asked to continue beyond the deadline I had set for myself was both flattering but also a request that was very difficult to turn down."

Sharpe went on: "I have never known a season where the Wallabies have faced such adversity as we have this year.

"To show the spirit and character that the team has is a mark of how the group has grown, both individually and collectively, and I have enjoyed playing my part in that.

"The opportunity to lead the Wallabies again on what will be a challenging but exciting tour was too tempting. It is not easy to say no to your country."

"I have never known a season where the Wallabies have faced such adversity as we have this year." - Sharpe

Robbie Deans added: "You only have to look at what he has achieved with the group since he took over as captain.

"His influence has been immense, he is arguably playing the best rugby of his career but, most importantly, he is enjoying the experience.

"Sharpey's presence and leadership has been a constant throughout the year - one of the few aspects of continuity that we've had through a season that is probably without precedent in terms of disruption.

"For that reason, it was straight forward asking him to continue, both following on from the June Tests when he had originally planned to retire, and then again following the Rugby Championship.

"While he has a range of other commitments in his life, and touring means putting them on hold again, I had no doubt that he would be keen to continue."

The 111-Test veteran will now call time on his career after the 2 December Test against Wales at Millennium Stadium.

The Wallabies will also play France, England and Italy on their annual end-of-season tour. 

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