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Hooker Charles has already overcome big obstacles - NZ All Blacks are just another challenge

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BATHURST, Australia - Nathan Charles is approaching his likely run-on test debut for Australia this month with the same determination he has applied to the other major obstacles of his life: battling cystic fibrosis, and overcoming a serious knee injury last season.

The Western Force hooker has two test caps as a replacement, both against France in June, but injuries to established veterans Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau have seemingly cleared the way for him to make the starting lineup against New Zealand on Aug. 16 in Sydney.

Charles, touring regional towns with the Wallabies squad, told Australian Associated Press on Wednesday that "Nine months ago, I was still coming back from a knee reconstruction. So this is my wildest dreams."

Charles, who kept his genetic condition private until recent seasons, has become an ambassador for the national cystic fibrosis foundation and takes more than two dozen tablets a day as part of his strict health regime.

The condition mainly affects the lungs and digestive system and there is no cure. The average lifespan for a person with CF in Australia is 37, according to the foundation's statistics. Charles' parents were told initially that he may not reach his 10th birthday, so he figures he's already overcome some of the biggest barriers he'll ever face long before taking on the world champion All Blacks.

He's embracing his chance to play a contact sport and represent Australia, and says it's his sporting achievements that should be the focus of attention.

"Everyone's got a barrier in life and how they overcome is what they should be judged by, rather than the actual condition or barrier they have," he said.

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