LUKE Charteris will be a central figure as Wales bid to avert a lock crisis ahead of Saturday’s crucial Test against Australia.
The Welsh Rugby Union have copped a lot of flak over recent week and months but they did a fine bit of business before the start of the autumn series.
They negotiated a deal with Perpignan to allow them the services of Charteris against Biarritz on November 10 – the date of the Argentina clash – so he would be available for Saturday’s game with Australia, which is outside the International Rugby Board’s Test window.
It has proved to be a masterstroke given that Bradley Davies has been ruled out of the final game with severe concussion while second and third choices Ian Evans (knee) and Ryan Jones (head wound) face late fitness tests.
Former Newport Gwent Dragons captain Charteris had three second row partners against New Zealand – Davies and then flankers Jones and Aaron Shingler – and he has backed the deputies to rise to the challenge.
"It’s about learning those intricacies in the lineout and learning different roles," said the 29-year-old, who doesn’t expect to be wrapped in cotton wool in training this week despite his importance to the side.
"It was hard for those guys to be forced into it in game time situations and try to compete, but we did pretty well against New Zealand and need to do the same this weekend.
"It was a test on our lineout calling but we coped pretty well and I think it’s quite good to have versatile players like Aaron and Ryan who cover back row and lock.
"We’ll just have to make sure the boys run in different positions in training to try and cover every eventuality."
Wales have called up Blues lock Lou Reed but he would appear to be behind Jones and Shingler in the pecking order.