Luke looks to protect Wales career

Lions hopeful Luke Charteris insists his decision to move to France won't have an impact on his international career. [more]

Luke looks to protect Wales career

Lions hopeful Luke Charteris insists his decision to move to France won’t have an impact on his international career.

The Newport Gwent Dragons lock was one of the standout performers in last year’s World Cup as he established himself as a favourite for a Lions berth in 2013.

Charteris has since announced that he will be leaving Wales at the end of the current season, with French Top 14 outfit Perpignan seemingly his chosen destination.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has spoken publicly of the dangers of his star players moving abroad, with foreign clubs not legally bound to release players back to the international fold for the same amount of time as the Welsh regions.

The likes of 2009 Lions Mike Phillips, Lee Byrne, James Hook and Andy Powell have all found their Wales training programmes disrupted by club commitments since their moves to France and England but 6ft 9in Charteris says he has done everything possible to ensure his Wales career isn’t affected by his summer switch.

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“I've worked very hard to make sure that, where I'm going, they've given me full releases,” said Charteris.

“As long as I'm playing well and I'm putting myself out there performance-wise, if I'm called on I'll be available for all Welsh training and for Welsh games because that's massively important to me.

“The only option I had was to stay at the Dragons – which is great – or to move abroad.

“There were no other options from another Welsh club and, to be honest, that's probably not something I would have looked at and wanted to do anyway.”

Charteris has been sidelined with injury since the Bronze Medal defeat to Australia in the World Cup in October but he will be back in action earlier than expected on Saturday night.

The Dragons’ club captain had surgery to repair ligaments in his right arm and the initial diagnosis suggested he would be very fortunate to return before the end of the season.

But Charteris’ rehabilitation has gone particularly well, with the 32-times capped second row set to start for the Dragons in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Munster at Rodney Parade.

His progress has led to calls for him to be handed his Welsh shirt back for the remaining 6 Nations games with Italy and France but he admits that’s not something he is either anticipating or focusing on.

“Playing for the Dragons is a more realistic goal for me,” Charteris told the Western Mail.

“I’m on bonus time because I wasn’t due to be back playing for another month. I just want to get as many games under my belt for the Dragons before I leave.

“All the boys who have come in for Wales have done really well. That’s the good thing about the Wales squad these days, one or two people get injured and there’s always someone ready and looking to take your place.”

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