Charteris primed for Ireland test
October 5, 2011
Charteris looks for support during Wales'' recent clash with Namibia © Getty Images
Wales lock Luke Charteris is ready to rise to the challenge posed by Ireland's twin towers of strength - Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell.
The 6ft 9in Charteris has been among the many success stories of Wales' World Cup campaign so far, gaining a regular starting place after providing back-up to an established pairing of Jones and Bradley Davies last season. But the biggest game of his career now beckons, with a semi-final place at stake and 80 minutes' hard labour ahead for a Wales pack that more than held its own throughout a tough Pool D schedule.
"They are both quality players," Charteris said, of the duel with Munster men O'Callaghan and O'Connell. "O'Connell probably gets more of the limelight, but O'Callaghan is a class player in his own right. He does probably more of the donkey work.
"Both of them are really good players, and it will be a challenge to keep up with those two. I have not played with O'Connell, but how he leads is obviously a big part of his game. Playing against him, you see he's a good competitor. He will go up in the air on our throw, he does his homework on opponents, he is an honest worker around the field and he carries a lot for them as well."
It is a task, though, that Newport Gwent Dragons forward Charteris insists he will relish as Wales target a last-four spot for the first time since 1987. "The days of being intimidated in rugby are long gone," he added. "It is a challenge, and one that excites you. When you come up against a highly-rated pair it means you just have to raise your game. I don't think there is any intimidating factor.
"If you do feel it, you are probably in the wrong sort of sport. I always have the mindset that the better the opposition the more you have to raise your game. That is the challenge, and that is what makes you a better player. I have never been intimidated before a game or during a game, as a young player or now."
The Wales lineout performed strongly throughout the group games, notably against world champions South Africa, and Charteris added: "We are very happy with the way the lineout has gone. "We have been up against a lot of teams who have put pressure on us, but we've come out with real big statistics. Ireland will do a lot of work on us, but we will rely on our processes.
"The lineout is an area of the game that changes. They bring little rules in and you have to adapt, perhaps come up with new ideas to stay one step ahead. For a lot of us it is our first time at a tournament like this, and we are loving every minute of it.
"Four years is a long time in rugby - you never know what is going to happen next week, let alone four years down the line - and I think everyone treats this as their last World Cup. If you are lucky enough to get another one, it is a bonus.
"We were in such a tough group that we knew we were going to have to hit the ground running and there would be no let-up from the first start to hopefully the final. So far, it is as we expected. We've had four tough games and we've tried to raise our performances each time we have taken the field. Facing Ireland, we know we are battle-hardened and ready for it."
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