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Former Gloucester hooker Nathan Charles defies cystic fibrosis to star for Western Force

By The Citizen  |  Posted: August 08, 2014

By James Evans

The inspirational story of former Gloucester hooker Nathan Charles will begin a new chapter next week, with the 25 year-old set to start a Test against New Zealand in Sydney.

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of three months, Charles’ parents were told their son might not reach his tenth birthday.

However, with injury to first choice hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, the Western Force star is likely to wear the number two shirt in the Rugby Championship opener on August 16, having lined up in that position during this week’s training sessions.

Charles, who had a six week deal at Kingsholm in 2011, takes 28 tablets a day in order to manage his condition, and is the only sufferer of the disease to play elite level sport.

He takes part in a number of charity events in his role as an ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Australia, but he is keen to be judged on his sporting ability.

“I was never in a situation where CF controlled the outcomes of my life in any way,” he said back in 2012.

“I don’t want sympathy. Everyone in life has challenges, and as a person you are judged not by your falls but how you rise from them. There are a lot of kids affected far more severely than I have been.”

After leaving Gloucester, Charles returned to Western Force, collecting the player of the year award in 2012.

His international debut came off the bench against France in June, but next Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup clash will undoubtedly be the highlight of his career so far.

And Charles’ coach at the Force, Michael Foley, has no doubts that his protégé is ready for the step up.

"It's a great opportunity to take his game to the next level,” said the former Wallabies hooker.

“No one expects him to go out there and play his best ever game of Test football. There will be moments in the game when he's sat on his backside and he has to dust himself off, get back in there and rip in again. The more he does that the more he'll enjoy it."

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