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Sharpe signs with Perth, Hewat rejects offer

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Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe on Wednesday revealed he had signed with Perth’s new Super 14 team next year, in a bitter blow to his current team the Queensland Reds.

The Perth franchise said in a statement that the veteran of 28 international Tests had agreed to a three-year contract with Rugby WA.

He follows New South Wales hooker Brendan Cannon, who became the team’s first signing Tuesday, in a move that incensed Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie.

Sharpe, 27, said the chance to be involved in a new team was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“This is obviously not a decision I have made lightly,” he said in the statement.

“It will not be easy to move away from the Queensland Reds because they have been a major part of my life for the past eight years. I have achieved some of my proudest moments in a Reds jersey.”

Earlier, the Reds had announced injured-plagued Elton Flatley would stand down as captain, opening the way for Sharpe, who has Wallaby leadership ambitions when current captain George Gregan retires.

Queensland had even erected a sign saying “Don’t Go Sharpie” at their Ballymore ground in a desperate bid to retain his services.

Mitchell said Sharpe had been at the top of his recruitment list.

“We don’t pretend that we will be able to recruit every player we want, but securing Nathan Sharpe and Brendan Cannon this week gives us the two players who we think are essential for creating a winning team with an exceptional culture,” he said.

ACT Brumbies centre Clyde Rathbone is also considering a move to the new franchise.

Peter Hewat has however rejected a lucrative offer in favour of re-signing with New South Wales.

Hewat, who has been in sizzling form this season standing in for the injured Mat Rogers, said the quality of his NSW teammates was a crucial factor in his decision to sign on for another three years.

“Im playing in the back three with two of the best players in the world in Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers but nothing beats the quality of our forward pack which allows us to do our work at the back,” he said.

NSW coach Ewen McKenzie, who was furious about Cannon being poached, was jubilant Hewat had rejected the overtures from Western Australia.

“They had a good shot at him but we’re very happy to announce that Peter Hewat will remain a Waratah for some time to come,” he said.

“We saw something special in Peter when we signed him last year and to his credit he’s stepped up a level to become an important part of the Waratahs.”

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