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Sharpe hails All Blacks lineout

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James Mortimer     18 Aug 2012     Getty Images

Yet Sharpe, who answered a SOS from Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to postpone retirement, felt that the All Blacks had grown their game to field a consistent lineout.

Sharpe, who retired as the most capped Investec Super Rugby player of all time earlier this season, has been in career best form according to Deans, and the most experienced Force player ever will start The Investec Rugby Championship as the Wallabies front-line lock.

No longer could the Wallabies rely on weak All Blacks lineouts Sharpe said.

"Their lineout has got a lot better over the last few years," he said.

"There were years when I first started playing where the lineout was a real point of weakness for them but over the last three years they've been very consistent with what they produce."

While the 34-year-old acknowledged the threat the All Blacks had up front, he said a couple of losses could affect the World Champions.

"(Jerome) Kaino had been a mainstay of their pack for a long time and Brad (Thorn)," he said.

"Teams need players that have a talismanic effect I suppose and he was one of those guys.

"Brad got much better at lineouts as he progressed to the point he was a threat in games and in scrummaging it's well-documented the All Blacks enjoyed the weight he put in."

Facing off against the Crusaders combination of Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano, Sharpe said there was some quality coming from the All Blacks second row production line.

"They're very talented guys, they took their opportunities against Ireland, " he said.