Inspirational Western Force lock and Wallabies stalwart, Nathan Sharpe, will call time on his glittering career and hang up his boots from all competitive rugby at the end of the 2012 Super Rugby season.
A commanding figure in Australian rugby since making his debut in Queensland in 1998, Sharpe was the premier recruit of the Western Force when the side joined the Super 14 competition in 2006.
He enters his 15th, and final, top flight campaign already as the most capped player in both club (77) and competition history (147) and if form for the Western Force and the Wallabies last year is any indication he will bow out at the top of his game.
Sharpe said making his retirement announcement now would put to an end any speculation over his future and for the next six months his only focus would be on elevating the Force into their first finals series.
"I've had a wonderful time playing rugby, have seen some pretty special things over my time and cherished every single moment of it. It's not the end right now, I still have some goals I want to achieve this season," Sharpe said.
"My last game of professional rugby will be wearing the Western Force jersey. It is an emotional time for me, it's one of those decisions you mull over and think 'are you going too early or too late' and I wasn't really sure of that until recently.
"I've been incredibly lucky right through my career to have been involved with some great people and great teams. I've got one more shot at winning a title and I don't intend on fading away, I want to finish with my best Super Rugby season yet, that's the way I want to exit the game."
Throughout his time in Perth Sharpe has led by example and continually raised the bar on the field while also enthusiastically giving his time to ensure the success of the professional era in West Australian rugby.
"Coming to Perth was the best decision I made in my career," Sharpe said.
"I've had an amazing time and have been part of the strongest support network I've experienced in rugby. That network extends from people within RugbyWA, to the members and supporters who turn up every week to the games, to the ones you see around town proudly wearing the Force kit.
"When you're down at City Beach and you see people wearing a club cap or jersey it is fantastic. It's honestly a great feeling to have a town that is passionate and proud and want to show support for their rugby team."
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