Wallabies determined to win for retiring Sharpe

RUSSELL JACKSON
Last updated 09:27 27/11/2012
Nathan Sharpe
Getty Images
LAST HURRAH: Wallabies' captain Nathan Sharpe will bring down the curtain on his illustrious career against Wales this weekend.

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Adam Ashley-Cooper says four words will fuel the Wallabies for their European tour-ending clash with Wales this weekend in Cardiff.

"Do it for him."

Him being captain Nathan Sharpe in the 116th and final test match of his grand rugby career on Saturday at Millennium Stadium.

"That's all we'll need to say amongst the other players," Ashley-Cooper said.

"This game is about the jersey and Sharpey. We don't have to talk about it all week.

"We'll just say those simple words and that's all we need to remind everyone."

Ashley-Cooper left no doubt about the admiration the Wallabies had for their 34-year-old skipper, who gets a finale befitting his career that would have seemed highly improbable as recently as mid-year.

Only a fringe Rugby World Cup player last year and due to retire after the 2012 Super Rugby season, he was requested to play on due to the Wallabies' depleted second-row stocks and ended up as captain as injuries took further toll and his vast experience and ledership qualities stood out.

"We're trying to encourage him to stay ... he's a freak and he's getting better and we really want to win this game for him," Ashley-Cooper said.

Australia will be aiming for an eighth straight win over Wales, who are in serious trouble.

Last year's RWC semi-finalists and Six Nations champions suffered a sixth consecutive Test defeat when New Zealand beat them 33-10 in Cardiff last Saturday.

Half of those six losses came against the Wallabies, who swept them 3-0 in Australia earlier this year.

Ashley-Cooper admitted Saturday's 22-19 win over Italy was one of the most physical games he's played in 76 tests.

"For me, that first 10 to 20 minutes was probably one of the most intense and physical games I've been involved in," the utility back said.

"I think both teams shocked each other with how physical it was out there and we're expecting another very tough clash against Wales.

"I reckon they are pretty keen to play us off the back of the series that we won earlier in the year.

"They've had some pretty disappointing losses and we know we're facing a team in a pretty tough situation.

"Teams generally are better when they are at their most desperate."

Ashley-Cooper believes a major factor in Australia's poor showing in the second half against Italy was the opposition disrupting their set piece, particularly the lineout.

"The set piece ball was a big factor. You have to value set-piece ball, particularly in Europe," he said.

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"We need to really tidy up our set piece if we want to get a result against Wales."

- AAP

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