Six Nations 2014: England v Wales - Jake Ball happy living the dream as he continues to feature in the absence of Luke Charteris

Charteris was ruled out of Sunday's encounter with a neck injury meaning Ball will partner Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row

Berkshire-born Jake Ball will continue living the dream at Twickenham on Sunday when he attempts to plot England's RBS Six Nations downfall.

The former Western Australia Under-19s cricketer, whose Welsh-speaking father from Pwllheli played rugby for Harlequins, has been handed his second Wales start after lock Luke Charteris suffered a neck injury in training.

It is the latest chapter in a remarkable story of a player whose rise to the top has proved far from conventional.

Ball kept going with his rugby aspirations, despite being told at Perth-based Western Force that he was not heavy enough, and then joining the Scarlets on trial while he also battled to overcome a serious knee injury.

The now-considerable beard that Ball has been growing for charity since last summer guarantees he will be easy to spot at Twickenham this weekend, and the 22-year-old Scarlets forward is seemingly comfortable with life in the limelight.

"I will be shaving it off at the end of the season for the Make A Wish Foundation. I grew it for charity, and I said I would grow it for a season," he said.

"I last shaved in July, so it's been a while. It has brought me some luck, so I might grow a beard a year, but I am not sure the fiancee will be happy with that!"

Ball's happy-go-lucky exterior belies an inner belief and strength that helped enable him cope comfortably with a first Test match start against France two weeks ago as a late replacement for star lock Alun Wyn Jones, who had a foot infection.

He excelled during Wales' title-reviving 27-6 success, and it would be no surprise if he delivered the goods again, despite a considerable twin threat posed by England's dynamic second-row combination of Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes.

"I am just going to get out there and do what I do best," Ball added.

"I just get stuck in and play my natural game. I like to hit my breakdowns and do the basics well.

"Luke copped the knock quite early in the week, so I was training in that starting role anyway. I think even when you are on the bench, you approach it as if you are going to start.

"Against France, it was quite a last-minute thing, which was quite nice to be honest. It didn't give me a lot of time to think about it - I could just get out there and play.

"I didn't know what I was running out into (at the Millennium Stadium). I didn't expect the lights to be off, the fireworks and everything else. It all just flashed by really quickly.

"It was a case of controlling the emotions through the anthems. It's a dream, isn't it, to play international rugby."

PA

Sport
formula oneLive lap-by-lap coverage of championship decider
News
Lily Allen performs on stage at Splendour In the Grass 2014 on 27 July, 2014, in Byron Bay, Australia
people
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Sport
Manny Pacquiao lands a blow on Chris Algieri
Pacquiao retains WBO welterweight title – and says he wants Mayweather next
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
News
i100
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin