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Sharpe claims players' award
By Laine Clark
18:42 AEST Wed Dec 12 2012

He may have been on a well earned fishing trip but retired Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe still hooked another award on Wednesday.

Another chapter was added to his memorable swansong tale when Australia's most capped forward claimed a record fourth Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) Medal for Excellence in Sydney.

But the medal was accepted in Sharpe's absence by injured Queensland Reds captain James Horwill because the keen outdoors man had already booked an off-season fishing sojourn.

Sharpe becomes the first player to savour the top RUPA honour four times after equalling George Gregan's record of three last year.

Sharpe emerged triumphant in a field of finalists that also included Berrick Barnes, Gareth Delve, Michael Hooper, David Pocock and Sitaleki Timani.

Every Super Rugby player in Australia voted on a 3-2-1 points basis for the player they thought impressed on and off the field.

"His contributions go far and beyond the playing field," Wallabies coach Robbie Deans told Fox Sports TV.

"He is the second most capped Wallaby of all time and he exhibits all the qualities of the game."

Sharpe's honour came barely a month after he became just the second player to win a John Eales Medal twice, joining George Smith.

"We came from the same club in Brisbane. He has always been someone I have looked up to coming through the ranks," Horwill said.

In other awards, ACT Brumbies back Joe Tomane was named Newcomer of the Year after going from rugby league convert to Wallaby within 12 months.

The dumped Melbourne and Gold Coast NRL player - currently nursing an ankle complaint - beat out a field that also included Bernard Foley, Kyle Godwin and Cadeyrn Neville.

Jesse Parahi won the Sevens Excellence Award and Pat McCabe won the Academic Achievement Award for fast-tracking his law degree while recovering from a neck injury.

And Melbourne Rebels' Eddie Aholelei won the Community Service award for more than 75 hours spent this year mentoring underprivileged youth.

Meanwhile, Reds lock Adam Wallace-Harrison and Melbourne young gun James O'Connor met as part of a new-look RUPA board on Wednesday.

Wallace-Harrison replaces the retiring Adam Freier as RUPA president.

He joined the RUPA board with fellow new appointees O'Connor who was representing the Rebels, Matt Hodgson (Western Force), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs) as well as re-elected representatives Horwill (Reds) and Stephen Moore (Brumbies).