Charles nears Wallab honour goal

Nathan Charles is a remarkable young man and an inspiration to many.

They are labels that do not sit easily on the broad shoulders of the Western Force hooker, one of Australia's elite rugby players on the verge of representing his country after being picked by Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie in the squad to face France next month.

He was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at three months and his parents were told they should probably not plan too many birthdays.

But Charles, 25, has proved them all wrong to become the only professional athlete in Australia, possibly the world, with the disease playing a contact sport.

Cystic fibrosis has no known cure and gives sufferers a 37-year life expectancy.

"Doctors said I'd be lucky to get to double digits but I wasn't going to sit around and wonder why this happened to me," he said ahead of the Force's crucial Super Rugby clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch tomorrow night.

"The last thing I want is sympathy. There are a lot of kids affected far more severely than me."

There are still 28 tablets a day, a lot more if he gets sick, and a controlled diet, but Charles does not want to be seen as a cystic fibrosis sufferer playing rugby.

He is a rugby player with cystic fibrosis - and one playing in the sport's hardest and most physically demanding positions in the middle of the front row.

"That's how I think of things. First and foremost I'm a rugby player and obviously there's a stigma attached to cystic fibrosis," he said.

"I believe you can achieve anything. You don't let the cystic fibrosis control you, you control the cystic fibrosis."

Charles, national ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Australia, credits his parents David and Heike for his never-say-never attitude.

"They never said there was anything I couldn't do. They encouraged me to do absolutely every-thing," he said. "They said, 'If you want something you go out and work your arse off to get it'.

"That's what I've done and it's a philosophy I've had my whole life.

"It's where my analogy for life comes from - FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out."

Charles battled back from a season ending knee injury last year to take the next step towards donning the Wallaby jumper.

It is a dream he has had for as long as he can remember and one his family never let him forget.

The West Australian

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