Charles defies cystic fibrosis to play for Wallabies

Wallabies hooker Nathan Charles says he wants to be judged on his performance rather than a genetic disease he has defied to make the national team.

Charles, who is poised to make his Test debut when he starts on the replacements bench against France in Melbourne on Saturday, is a cystic fibrosis sufferer.

He is believed to be the only athlete with the condition in the world who is playing a professional contact sport.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.

Charles, 25, requires up to 28 pills and vitamins daily to manage his condition, but he said he does not want to take that into account on Saturday when he is expected to play some part in the second Test against the French.

“The thing I want to be judged on is my performance … rather than the disease I carry,” he said ahead of the game.

“Mum and dad brought me up to set my goals high and (if) you want it, you have to go out and work hard to get it.

“I don’t see why myself, or anyone else, should have limitations on what they can achieve in life because I reckon the only thing stopping you is yourself.”

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie hailed Charles as a medical marvel.

“He (Charles) seems to defy science and logic,” McKenzie told reporters.

“I think if anyone had not said anything to us, we would not have known (about his condition).

“I am glad it is out in the open and I think the best we can do to acknowledge him is to give him an opportunity on the field.”

McKenzie said the Western Force hooker had leapfrogged the more-established James Hanson in the Wallabies’ queue behind first-choice hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau on his own merits.

“He handles the medical side of it himself. There is nothing I notice or see — he just functions like everyone else,” he said.

“I just deal with them as a footballer and he (Charles) has been a really good addition to the squad.”

France lost the first Test in Brisbane 50-23. The final Test takes place in Sydney on June 21.


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