Sharpe calls for two refs to sort out breakdown

RUSSELL JACKSON
Last updated 09:42 24/11/2012
Nathan Sharpe
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LAST HURRAH: Wallabies' captain Nathan Sharpe will bring down the curtain on his illustrious career against Wales this weekend.

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Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe says rugby union should look at introducing two referees to help sort out problem areas in the game such as scrums and the breakdown.

Sharpe, who is preparing for Saturday's (Sunday NZT) clash against Italy in Florence, believes an extra on-field official could help clean the game up.

"I don't know how you'd do it. I haven't got the exact answers but it would be great to have someone to look at the intricate parts of the game around breakdowns and scrummaging. The other referee could then monitor the other parts of the game," he said.

"I just think there's so much going on in rugby union. There's so many grey areas ... I don't know where the guys (refs) would stand but I think it would really help the referees out."

The 34-year-old, who will retire from rugby after the test against Wales next weekend, has great admiration for officials and what they do.

"I'd hate to be a referee. There's so much to look at. Tacklers, attacking players and the offside line ... there's so much going on. Maybe two referees could help."

South Africa's Lourens van der Merwe will referee the match in Florence in just his third test and he should be kept busy with the Italians expected to hide the ball in scrums, rucks and mauls.

"We played Italy here two years ago. Whenever they had a scrum feed within our halfway they just left the ball at the No. 8's feet until someone yielded. They try to draw penalties that way," Sharpe said.

"It's the same with their mauling. There's no doubt they'll come with an attitude there and so we've prepared as well as we can for those things."

Italy are coming off a 42-10 loss to New Zealand in Rome last Saturday with the home side trailing by just 23-10 with 13 minutes remaining before the All Blacks crossed for three late tries.

"I heard a quote from Conrad Smith (All Blacks centre) saying that was the hardest test New Zealand have played all year. That's a fair statement and an indication of how tough it's going to be," he said.

Meanwhile replacement hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau has been withdrawn from the Italy test with his spot on the bench taken by James Hanson.

Polota-Nau is believed to be nursing a few bruises after the England game.

In other Wallabies news, reserve lock Rob Simmons's appeal over an eight-week ban he copped against France two weeks ago will be heard in Bristol on Tuesday.

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