sport

Charteris feels benefit of France

Luke Charteris readily accepts that Wales' France-based players run a considerable risk of dropping down the selection pecking order.

But the Perpignan lock also has no doubt his game has improved since he opted for a cross-Channel move from Newport Gwent Dragons last summer.

Charteris looks set to win his 38th cap when Wales tackle Samoa at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night - a game that has taken on added significance following last weekend's dire 26-12 defeat against Argentina.

"I am enjoying it at Perpignan," he said. "My game has improved since I have been there.

"It is a hard league, and we like to throw the ball about and off-load. That side of my game has come on, along with rucking.

"It is a lifestyle as well as a rugby change for me. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt there last week - a nice change after living in Wales for so long!

"You know when you move to France that you will put yourself behind players who are in Wales, and I would not expect it to be any other way.

"You are taking yourself out of the shop window and it puts the onus on you to play to a higher standard."

Charteris missed the Pumas debacle to play for Perpignan in the French Top 14, but a deal struck between the Welsh Rugby Union and his club means he is available to face Australia on December 1 despite that fixture falling outside the International Rugby Board's autumn Test window.

"I have full release for Poland (training camp) before the Six Nations this season, and then the whole of the championship," he added.

"I have a good relationship with the coaches at Perpignan, and it is getting a balance between what works best for the club and the national team."

Charteris started last year's punishing World Cup clash against Samoa in Hamilton, a game that saw Wales prevail 17-10 after they trailed at half-time to put them on course for the quarter-finals.

And the 29-year-old has no doubt that Wales need to expect something similar from the South Sea Islanders on Friday.

"Samoa gave us our hardest game in last year's World Cup," he said.

"It was fast as well as physical, and it went down to the wire. They like to throw it around, and we are under no illusions about how tough it is going to be.

"The result against Argentina was disappointing, but Argentina are a good team.

"Just because we did well in the World Cup and Six Nations after going (training) to Poland does not mean we will do so every time we go there.

"It is not about the place, but the attitude of the boys and how hard we work.

"We know we cannot accept Saturday's performance because we want to consistently reach high standards. We have been up and down in the past and we want to get away from that.

"We have been building steadily in the last few years and one setback is nothing to be panicking about and trying to change everything.

"We have the chance to turn it around on Friday."

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley is set to name his starting line-up to face Samoa on Wednesday lunchtime.