x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Rugby Championship: Sharpe to lead Australia against Argentina after 'captain's curse'

Veteran star Nathan Sharpe will take the captain's armband for the Wallabies following stand-in captain Will Genia's injury.

Australia veteran Nathan Sharpe celebrates with teammates after the win over South Africa.
Australia veteran Nathan Sharpe celebrates with teammates after the win over South Africa.

Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe has been named to lead Australia against Argentina in their Rugby Championship clash on Saturday -  after the 'captain's curse' struck the Wallabies for the third time this season

Stand-in skipper Will Genia has been sidelined with a knee injury, having replaced David Pocock after his own injury problem.

Sharpe had planned to retire after the Super Rugby season but was persuaded by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to play on in the southern hemisphere tournament.

He now founds himself captaining Australia for a third time in his 109th test after previously leading the side against New Zealand in 2004 and Samoa the following year.

"Sharpy's just been immense for us this year, he's been superb," Deans said.

"You can just see in him, not only in the way he plays, but if you're around him through the week - the way he prepares to play, the pride he takes in what the group does.

"When you look at the profile of our group at the moment, we've lost a lot of experience, so he's just become even more important to us."

Meanwhile Deans insists he had no hesitation in rushing Pat McCabe straight back from injury for Saturday's game.

McCabe, 24, has recovered from a stress fracture in his foot that kept him out of Australia's first three games of the tournament, but does not exactly have a wealth of form behind him.

The ACT Brumbies centre returns to the international stage on the back of just half an hour of club rugby for Wests in Canberra's first grade grand final at the weekend.

His return means that Kurtley Beale has been relegated to the bench, with Berrick Barnes shifting from inside centre to full-back to accommodate him.

But Deans said McCabe's work ethic has eased any concerns over his readiness for the first ever Test played on the Gold Coast.

"He hasn't been off for long, and obviously he's had a full season of rugby, so he's well conditioned," he said.

"He played throughout the June series and then finished off Super Rugby as well, so he's got good background with us.

"We've got no doubts about his fitness, it was just a small fracture which has obviously healed fully now."

Meanwhile Argentina coach Santiago Phelan has kept faith with the forward pack that made life difficult for New Zealand last week and made just two changes to his backline for Saturday's match.

Martin Landajo has replaced Nicolas Vergallo at scrumhalf, while Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino takes the place of Martin Rodriguez at fullback.

Both Vergallo and Rodriguez were dropped to the replacements bench for the clash at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.


Australia team: 15-Berrick Barnes, 14-Dom Shipperley, 13-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12-Pat McCabe, 11-Digby Ioane, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Nick Phipps, 8-Radike Samo, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Dave Dennis, 5-Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4-Kane Douglas, 3-Ben Alexander, 2-Tatafu Polota Nau, 1-Benn Robinson

Replacements: 16-Stephen Moore/Saia Fainga'a, 17-James Slipper, 18-Scott Higginbotham, 19-Liam Gill, 20-Brett Sheehan, 21-Anthony Fainga'a, 22-Kurtley Beale

Argentina: 15-Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14-Gonzalo Camacho, 13-Marcelo Bosch, 12-Santiago Fernandez, 11-Horacio Agulla, 10-Juan Martin Hernandez, 9-Martin Landajo, 8-Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7-Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6-Julio Farias Cabello, 5-Patricio Albacete, 4-Manuel Carizza, 3-Juan Figallo, 2-Eusebio Guinazu, 1-Rodrigo Roncero.

Replacements: 16-Agustin Creevy, 17-Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18-Leonardo Senatore, 19-Thomas Leonardi, 20-Nicolas Vergallo, 21-Martin Rodriguez, 22-Juan Imhoff