Dragons hope to keep Luke Charteris out of cluthes of French clubs

Luke Charteris
Luke Charteris has been a Dragon since 2003

The Dragons say they are doing their utmost to stop Wales lock Luke Charteris signing for a foreign club.

Charteris, one of Wales' stars at the World Cup, is reportly wanted by Perpignan, Toulon, New South Wales Waratahs and Melbourne Reds.

But Dragons team manager Robert Beale admits he is in positive contract talks with Charteris.

"I'm optimistic. I'm deep in discussions with Luke and his agent over his future," he said.

"Luke has been at Newport Gwent Dragons and Rodney Parade for the best part opf 10 years. So we are doing everything we can as a business to keep him within our region.

"To be fair to Luke he has got some fairly major decisions to make on the back of a very, very good World Cup.

"He has become an asset that everybody is chasing. I'm doing my best in my role to retain him but we'll see how things pan out of the next few weeks.

"I'm well aware that several clubs are interested in Luke, but I'm led to believe that nothing has been agreed or signed yet."

Charteris is one of five Dragons players that appeared in Wales' World Cup squad along with Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau, Lloyd Burns and Aled Brew.

"It's extremely difficult [to keep players]. To be honest this is a knew phenomena for us having five players in that World Cup squad and them all performing very well," admitted Beale.

"Fortunately I was able to secure Toby Faletau and Lloyd Burns before they left for New Zealand."

Beale believes that rich French clubs touting Wales' players is going to be an ever-growing trend in Welsh rugby that has already seen James Hook join Perpignan, Lee Byrne sign for Clermont Auvergne and Mike Phillips head for Bayonne following the World Cup.

"It's the name of the game. Players have a relatively short career and I guess they have to make the most of that career. In Luke's case has been a fantastic servant to this region so what happens we will deal with that," he said.

"I think it is a issue going forward. Our strength in depth in Wales is, in my opinion not as good as people think in certain positions, and I think it's going to be an ongoing problem where the regions probably can't afford to retain those players who have the potential to earn very high salaries.

"I think ultimately we will be forced to accepting that."

Charteris' contract with the Dragons is up at the end of the season and his agent insists he could remain at Rodney Parade.

"Luke is looking at his options and has been approached by a number of French clubs," said Charteris' agent Christian Abt.

The Perpignan link with Charteris comes just weeks after Dragons coach Darren Edwards said he hoped the lock would reject a move to France.

Edwards said he believed the lure of trying to win a place in the 2013 British and Lions squad to tour Australia would convince Charteris to stay in Wales.

"Now that he's put his marker down in Wales he'll make his decision on where he thinks he can achieve that goal and hopefully he sees that being from here," said Edwards.

A report in the local French newspaper L'Independent claimed the Wales World Cup star is set for a three-year deal playing alongside Hook.

But Wales' coach Warren Gatland's warning Six Nations selection could prove difficult for some players based outside Wales might yet dissuade Charteris from a foreign move.

Hook, Byrne and Phillips joined prop Craig Mitchell (Exeter) and Sale's Andy Powell in being omitted from the squad that lost to Australia at the weekend.

Charteris is already deemed a non-starter for the 2012 Six Nations after undergoing surgery on a wrist damaged at the World Cup in which Wales finished fourth.

The 6ft 9in lock suffered the injury during Wales' bronze medal play-off defeat by Australia in New Zealand.

Charteris joined the Dragons from Llanelli RFC at their inception in 2003 and was named captain ahead of this season.

But because of Wales duties at the World Cup and the injury, he has yet to appear from them this term.

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