A torn pectoral muscle ruined Nathan Charles’s first Wallabies opportunity in 2014 and the hooker is keen to work towards another chance on his return to Australia.
Charles has joined the Rebels as injury cover, after an injury to Wallabies rake Jordan Uelese, after two seasons in Europe, and said he’d happily step up if asked to.
The Wallabies hooker spot is wide open for June, with questions around whether Leicester hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will be rested until the Rugby Championship, rather than rushed in for June.
Reds hooker Brendan Paenga-Amosa and Waratahs’ Damien Fitzpatrick are other contenders for the Wallabies squad, though both are unproven in Tests.
Charles has played four Wallabies Tests, but a torn pectoral muscle ended his run of matches in 2014, and a series of injuries plagued him at Super Rugby level for the next two seasons.
Should there be a shortage at Test level, Charles said he felt he could still contribute in an international environment.
“I'll always put my hand up if I get the opportunity, but I was really upset with the way my last international game finished, with tearing my pec off the bone,” he said.
“It's not the way you envisage as a five-year-old having your last Wallabies game.
“If that opportunity comes around, I'll definitely put my hand up.
“I still feel like I've got the ability to perform at that level, but it's not something I've thought about at all.
“First and foremost, I've spent a lot of time away from my wife and I want to get back and see her end just enjoy myself.”
The 29-year-old said he felt he was an improved player from his time overseas, having played for Bath
“I do think I'm a better player,” he said.
“I think my knowledge of the game has also improved because I got it from a different perspective.”
It’s been a whirlwind comeback for Charles, who finished up with UK club Bath last week and was in Rebels colours just five days later, studying calls on the plane back to Australia to aid his transition.
“Before I flew back I did contact Joe (scrum coach Joe Barakat) and a few of the guys here about the lineouts and Monday before our first training session, I didn't want to be rocking in on a short turnaround and having to learn all these new calls from scratch,” he said.
“If I can come in with a base of detail, if that's only going to be better for me and better for the team, then ultimately that's what it's all about.”
Charles said he was confident the Rebels, who have lost five matches in a row, could turn their fortunes around against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.
The Rebels take on the Brumbies at GIO Stadium on Saturday night, kicking at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.