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Force rake lives highs and lows of the game
Nathan Charles at training yesterday. Pic: Lincoln Baker/WA News

Big things were expected of Western Force hooker Nathan Charles when the 2013 Super Rugby season started.

He was on a meteoric rise.

After two years playing for Australia in the Junior World Cup, Charles joined the Force mid-way through 2010 on a short-term contract and was so impressive he was called into the Wallabies' training squad for the spring tour.

He was on an unbroken run of 44 Super games when it all came crashing down in the first home match of this year, rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the 19-10 loss to the Cheetahs.

But now 24-year-old Charles, the only professional athlete in the world with cystic fibrosis playing a contact sport, is back to full training after nine months of rehabilitation.

"It has been a long road and I went through a few tough times there," Charles said. "Playing week in, week out … having it ripped away from you is tough.

"I've tried to take a few positives out of it, but there is nothing better than getting the all-clear from the surgeon, hearing 'you're good to go, nothing to worry about any more'.

"I spent nearly every day of those nine months in rehab. You have to start from scratch. It's a slow progression and it gave me a lot of time out of rugby to discover a normal life.

"It's more of a mental thing now. Physically I've had all the right preparation, the right people around me telling me what to do and the knee feels really strong.

"I'm building my confidence each day. After the session you think 'I'm getting there'. It's good to get back into it and hopefully out of this injury I become a better person.

"This has only reignited my flame to make the Wallabies.

"It's my end goal, but first it's getting back in the Force starting 15, playing the best footy I can.

"Come February 23 (the Force's opener against the Waratahs), I don't think I'll have a worry in the world. I just can't wait."

"It's a slow progression and it gave me a lot of time out of rugby to discover a normal life."" *Nathan Charles *on his knee injury * *