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Rugby World Cup: Competition for places will knock Wales into shape

Giant lock Luke Charteris faces a tall order to separate Wales' established second-row pairing at the World Cup — but he would have it no other way.

Bradley Davies and Alun-Wyn Jones look likely to be handed the sizeable task of combating South Africa's revered lineout forwards Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield in the Pool D opener next Sunday.

For 6ft 9in Charteris, it is likely to be a familiar Wales bench role — 10 of his 25 caps have been won as a replacement — although many judges believe his form warrants the number four or five shirt.

“The good thing about playing in a position where there is a lot of competition is that the boys push you to play better,” he said.

“And when you get a chance you have to do everything you can to impress.

“Everyone in the squad knows they cannot rest on their laurels. They have to give everything they can on the field, which is good.

“There are 30 boys here all aiming for a starting shirt. You have to keep trying to impress as best you can.”

Cornwall-born Charteris is excited about what Wales could bring to the World Cup party, having arrived with momentum generated from five wins in their last seven Tests.

“I think we are a lot fitter than we have ever been,” he added.

“Our fitness levels are really high. We know we can perform for 80 minutes at real high levels and that gives us confidence.

“The style we play is all-action and there is a lot of work you have to do fitness-wise to play it.

“If boys are dropping off, that could cost you pretty badly, whether it's a lapse in defence or giving away a penalty through a stupid mistake.

“Physically, I think we are there, it is just finishing it off mentally and making sure we are primed for Sunday.”

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Of the many threats South Africa will pose, none stands out more than that presented by the Botha/Matfield double act.

Wales will do the normal homework drills this week, but making their presence felt on the pitch is what really matters.

“Individually, they are very good players and they complement each other well,” said Charteris.

“Analysis is a massive part of the game — you have to see what you are up against — but I am not one of those who probably relies too much on it.

“I like to read it in a game as well and just back my instincts and back what I've learnt.

“To be honest, a lot of our analysis is looking at ourselves, watching us train and in various games and to see how we can get better.

“If we are on top of our game, then hopefully it will give them a few headaches thinking about us — that is where you want to be.”

And although the Wales squad has only been in New Zealand since Friday, Charteris' impressions of his first World Cup mean every box has been ticked so far.

“This country is rugby-mad,” he added. “They are certainly embracing the World Cup and that makes it about as big to us as it gets, really.

“In Wales, you've got rugby and that is about it and no other sports come close and it is the same down here in New Zealand.

“So that can be good and bad to have that scrutiny of a whole nation resting on your shoulders. That is the pressure New Zealand will face, like we do back home.

“It's my first time to New Zealand and I have an aunt and uncle in Auckland and some cousins, so hopefully I will get up there to see them.”

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