Wales lock Luke Charteris to leave Dragons

Luke Charteris
Luke Charteris has been a Dragon since 2003

Wales lock Luke Charteris will leave Newport Gwent Dragons at the end of the season.

French club Perpignan are favourites to sign the 28-year-old World Cup star, while a team from Japan and a Super 15 franchise are also interested.

Charteris' agent says the player will insist on release for all Wales commitments at his new team.

"A player's career doesn't last forever and I want to experience as much as I can," said Charteris.

Charteris' agent Christian Abt dismissed reports that Charteris would leave the Dragons immediately, saying: "There's absolutely no truth in him leaving the Dragons prior to the end of the season."

Abt, of ABC Sports Management, also says he player's negotiations with potential new clubs are "complicated" because of the desire to be available for all international training and playing duties, including the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

The news of Charteris' departure comes in the same week in which Cardiff Blues backs coach Gareth Baber called for the Welsh Rugby Union to give the Welsh regions more funds to help them keep hold of big name players.

Charteris is out until April because of a wrist injury, forcing him to miss the forthcoming Six Nations championship.

The 6ft 9in player has targeted Wales' three-Test June 2012 tour to Australia with a return from injury for the Dragons ahead of that trip to Australia.

Charteris added: "Being a professional rugby player gives an opportunity to travel and see the world which I feel I can't pass up.

"The chance to live in a different country and enjoy a new culture and way of life is one not everybody gets.

"A player's career doesn't last forever and I want to experience as much as I can.

"I have always been very clear that if I was to stay in Wales it would be with the Dragons. This is my region and it has been a really difficult decision to decide to move on.

"I'm only 28 and I see the Dragons as my home team so after a stint abroad I could perhaps come back a better player to Rodney Parade."

News of Charteris' decision emerges a month after Dragons coach Darren Edwards said he hoped Charteris 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.

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

If the move takes place, Charteris would become the fourth high-profile Welsh player to be plying his trade in France.

Hook, full-back Lee Byrne (Clermont Auvergne) and scrum-half Mike Phillips (Bayonne) joined up with their new teams following the World Cup.

But their moves were followed by a warning from Wales coach Warren Gatland that Six Nations selectionexternal-link could prove difficult for some players based outside Wales.

Hook, Byrne and Phillips joined prop Craig Mitchell (Exeter) and Sale's Andy Powell in being omitted from the squad that lost to Australia on 3 December.

The 6ft 9in lock suffered the wrist 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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