Evergreen Nathan Sharpe Claims His Second John Eales Medal

In the lead-up to last year’s Rugby World Cup, Nathan Sharpe was headed to the scrap heap. Robbie Deans had already indicated he was looking to favor youth, with Matt Giteau his first high profile axing. Sharpe wasn’t far behind, struggling to hold a bench position as James Horwill and Rob Simmons looked likely to form an enduring second-row partnership. Defying age and the good sense to accept when his time was up, Sharpe hung around, not only reclaiming his position but assuming the captaincy and capped off a stellar year winning the John Eales medal last night.

In a challenging year for the Wallabies, Sharpe’s experience has been vital. We can look to the failures; Scotland at home, Springboks away and the All Blacks in general, but in a season where three captains have joined a massive injury toll, things could have been much worse. We currently sit second in the world to an All black squad that will go down as one of the best of all time and we have maintained this ranking in a turbulent and testing time in which Nathan Sharp has been voted the most consistent player by his peers. Well done Sharpie!

The achievement is all the more remarkable considering Sharpe was due to retire at the end of the Super Rugby season before answering a Robbie Deans SOS. Sharpe edged out David Pocock to claim the award and joins George Smith as the only other double recipient of the award. Michael Hooper was rewarded for his breakout season winning the Rookie Of The Year.

John Eales Medal Winners
2002: George Smith
2003: Phil Waugh
2004: David Lyons
2005: Jeremy Paul
2006: Chris Latham
2007: Nathan Sharpe
2008: George Smith
2009: Matt Giteau
2010: David Pocock
2011: Kurtley Beale
2012: Nathan Sharpe

Check out this comprehensive Sharpie tribute with the obligatory Foo Fighter soundtrack:

Picture by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images