Western Force hooker NATHAN CHARLES has been in sensational form for Perth-based side in 2014 with his consistent work-rate and experience at the set-piece crucial to their success.
His heroics are not restricted to the Rugby field either. Charles suffers from cystic fibrosis and is the currently the only athlete with the condition in professional contact sport.
Diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening illness when he was just three months old, Charles has defied all odds to make it on to the field, inspiring plenty of young CF sufferers in the process.
Charles collapsed on the sidelines after working himself to a standstill in the Force’s Round 9, 28-16 win over the Waratahs this year.
After being hospitalised, he was back in the firing line against the Melbourne Rebels the following week and his resilience has placed him in the 2014 Qantas Wallabies selection pool.
In 2012 Charles started every game for the Western Force and scored the only try for Sydney University in their Shute Shield victory over Southern Districts.
The powerhouse began his career at the Western Force in 2010 on a short-term contract but it was quickly re-assessed after an 80m run to set up a try in the Western Force’s 24-16 win over the Crusaders.
That same year he was selected in the Wallabies’ training squad for the Spring Tour but did not make the final cut.
In 2008 he was awarded the SMH Rookie of the Year after an impressive year which saw him represent Australian U20s at the IRB Junior World Championship.
Charles began his career as a member of the Canterbury Bulldogs junior rugby league side while playing union on a Saturday. He worked his way up the Australian selection paths, earning a spot in schoolboys and the Brumbies academy.