From the time Wallabies legend John Eales first looked towering teenager Nathan Sharpe in the eye, he knew he had the makings of something special.
That feeling was proven right again on Thursday when 34-year-old Sharpe continued the amazing Indian summer of his revitalised career by winning a second John Eales Medal as the Wallabies' players' player.
"I don't think anyone would have picked it to end the way it has, but it's certainly very nice," Sharpe said.
"I want to be a guy that blokes want to play with and that's what that award means, I suppose.
"But I'd always take team success before individual success."
Following a couple of postponements, Sharpe will finally draw the curtain on his career after captaining Australian on their four-match spring tour of Europe this month.
He will leave the game as Australia's most-capped forward and with more Test appearances than any other lock in rugby history, though he didn't discover the latter fact until Thursday's medal presentation.
Sharpe and dual World Cup-winning lock Eales have between them dominated the Australian lineout over the past two decades, though they just missed out on playing a Test together.
They were teammates at Queensland, which Sharpe described as "pretty cool, pretty special".
However, Eales retired from Test rugby in 2001 and Sharpe started his international career the following year.
From the first time he met Sharpe, Eales had no doubt he was destined to enjoy an illustrious career.
"I remember the first time I met Sharpey would have been at Southport School and I went to present an award," Eales told AAP.
"He was a 15-year-old kid and I'd been playing Test rugby for a few years and there I was looking him in the eye thinking it wouldn't be far away before he is out here."
Sharpe also recalled that first meeting.
"I still have a photo of Ealesy presenting that jersey to me and I had a full head of hair," joked the bald-headed Sharpe.
Injuries to experienced locks James Horwill and Dan Vickerman prompted Sharpe to twice extend an international career he originally planned to end last June.
"I think what he's shown, which we all know to be a fact, is that age is not the relevant measure," said Eales, who retired at 31.
"It's your commitment, your ability to actually contribute in the team.
"Why has he been able to do that? He's resilient, he's persistent and he's bright and that last point just can't be over-emphasised.
"Its such an important point that a lot of people sort of wash over.
"He's astute about the game and the way he prepares and the way he plays."
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