'I'm a rugby league nerd' Jack Charles shares love for Hull FC and sport as young half sets lofty ambitions

Jack Charles during his Hull FC debut against London.
Jack Charles during his Hull FC debut against London. -Credit:Dave Lofthouse, Hull FC

Jack Charles has a sense of maturity that defies his youthful years. Even now, on top of the world after making seven Hull FC first grade appearances in his debut year as a teenager, he's still as down to earth as they come, grounded, and with his primary focus on getting better day by day.

For the 18-year-old, there's a long way to go. That's his standout admission, and regardless of the talent and promise he clearly has on his young shoulders, it's all about working hard and improving. It's an elite mindset.

And it comes from living and breathing a game he was born into. The family connections are well-known. Jack's dad Chris played over 200 games for Hull KR, with Charles junior now representing the Black and Whites, ready to nurture his craft as a self-confessed rugby league nerd.

Charles, who still qualifies for the academy side, does that while also tackling a sports course at college, but it doesn't faze him. In fact, the half-back, who debuted against London Broncos in March, is thriving, starting the last four and set to feature in Sunday's game in the capital.

"When you're doing something you love and you've always dreamed of, it all comes pretty easily," Charles told Hull Live. "I'm just so grateful for the opportunities I'm getting. I'm not afraid to admit it. I'm a rugby league nerd. I live and breathe the game. It's all I've ever wanted to do, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it. I just want to keep learning, keep getting better, and keep being a good teammate.

“When I was younger, I didn't just have one favourite player. I loved Benji Marshall, Nathan Cleary, Johnathan Thurston, and people like that, but I also looked at their games and tried to add what they do to mine. Hopefully, one day, I can be a mould of them, but I know that I've got a long road ahead of me.

“I just need to keep watching the best players, keep learning from them, and keep picking up traits that they have and never get satisfied. That's a big thing. I can never get satisfied with where I'm at. I will always look to improve. I'm staying grounded, and whatever comes at me, I'm adapting to it and doing my thing. If I play this week or if I don't, it's what I'm going to do next, and that's work hard."

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Backed to develop into a genuine star at the club, Charles signed a long-term deal with Hull last year. There will be plenty of opportunity ahead to get the repetitions he needs, with the player full of confidence, and determined to try and keep hold of his place in the first-team with a refreshing and carefree approach to the game.

"That's what you want—your club to be behind you, and I'm loving my time here,” Charles explained. "I really can't believe the position that I'm in at the minute. It's gone so fast, and I'm really grateful for everything, but I also want to keep putting my best foot forward for this team.

“I just want to keep playing. It's down to the coaching staff, and if they feel like I need to step out, I'll go with that and adapt, but at the moment, I just want to keep playing. I enjoy the freedom that I get, and anything I see, I play it, and take it. I like playing flat and fast, and I want to keep doing that and making snap decisions, whether that's the long ball or the short ball; it's only going to do me good in the future.

“I think that's also down to my teammates letting me play like that and backing me. It's only going to help me grow. Playing with freedom, all the best half-backs in the world do that, they all play what they see, and it's not just falling into that structure, it's adapting to what you see around you and the players around you as well. If I make a mistake, it's about moving past it. I'm pretty hard on myself anyway, but I'm really enjoying it."

Jack Charles in action for Hull FC.
Jack Charles in action for Hull FC. -Credit:SW Pix

Already in two months, Charles has grown both as a player and as a person. Yet it was only several weeks ago that he debuted off the bench, with the teenager admitting his nerves before turning out at the MKM Stadium.

"Its everything you ever dreamed of as a kid, and it's all I want to do, but I was a bag of nerves," Charles recalled. "I'm generally alright before the game. I'm not too bad. It's pretty much when I go onto the pitch. I started feeling a bit sick, but I got through it, and I'm here where I am now. I think every game this year I've thrown up on the pitch. I hope no Sky cameras catch it. It is what it is. I can't do anything about it."

And as for the rest of the season, Charles' goals are simple: play as much as possible, keep learning, and keep improving. The young gun will never take it for granted, with the desire to work hard and turn his dreams into realities.

He added: “You set your goals at the start of the season and things you'd like to do, but for me, with this opportunity I've got at the moment, I just want to thrive in it, learn as much as I can, and then take away what I've learned, have a look back, and then come back after October fresh and ready to go again.

"I know I've got to come to training each and every day with a smile on my face, keep enjoying what I'm doing, and work hard every day. This is just the start of what I want to do. I've not accomplished anything yet; I made my debut, but I want to accomplish a lot more than that. I don't just want to be an average player. I want to make something of my career and make something of my life.

"It's been hard at times, but the hard way is the only way you learn. Winning is all good, but you get the best lessons from your losses. I still wake up the next day regardless and work twice as hard."

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