“In New Zealand players are given a greater licence to make decisions about the game plan on and off the field. I think that’s one of the reasons why New Zealand has been more successful than South Africa and Australia,” Luke Chisholm responds when asked how New Zealand contrasts with his overseas rugby experiences.
Chisholm is a prop forward in his second year in the Wellington High Performance Unit and comes with a more worldly outlook than his peers.
This raises the standard of our intake but also the intensity at training as well.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chisholm lived in Durban for the first decade of his life. Remarkably he was introduced to lineout lifting aged five and was an outside centre for two years.
“I got too big to play in the centres so they moved me to prop. I’m still recovering,” Chisholm laughs.
While at the Northwood Crusaders, Chisholm played briefly with Wellington Under-19’s captain and fellow Academy member Taine Plumtree.
“He’s a year older than me so we didn’t play much together, but I knew him. It’s pretty cool how we’ve ended up playing with and against each other in two countries,” Chisholm said.
Australia was the next port of call for the Chisholm’s. Dad, Wayne was employed by Johnson and Johnson in Brisbane to sell tools to surgeons. Chisholm was enrolled at St Joseph’s, Nudgee, one of the leading rugby schools across the Tasman. Wallabies Rocky Elsom and James O’Connor are old boys.
“St Joseph’s was a private school and the facilities were amazing. Everything was laid on for us and the environment was closer to professionalism than in New Zealand,” Chisholm recalls.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing though. The talent was no better and the boys had been given everything so had nothing to look forward to.”
Chisholm, against stiff competition, and at the ripe age of 15, was a fringe First XV player at Nudgee.
In 2017 Chisholm arrived at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream and quickly established a formidable reputation. A regular First XV starter, Chisholm was the anchor of the scrum and a dominant front rower in Silverstream’s back to back Premiership successes.
“I really enjoyed my time at Silverstream. I liked the way we were encouraged to take ownership of reading the game. I made many friends,” Chisholm enthused.
“The highlight was beating Palmerston North Boys’ 71-0 in the traditional. Everything come together that day. It was 50-0 in the second-half.”
Chisholm was a member of the Wellington Centurions Under-18’s who won the Hurricanes Shield for the first time in 28 years beating Wairarapa 50-10 in the final. He hopes to bring his winning form to Upper Hutt. The Rams haven’t collected any major trophy since the Swindale Shield in 2005.
“We’ve been doing a lot of conditioning and even crossfit in the off season. We’ve got a lot of new boys at the club who are talented and working hard. I think we’ll go alright,” Chisholm warned.
Chisholm is not the first South Africa prop to be in the WRFU Academy. Reg Goodes and Delano Morkel are also graduates.
Favourite Musician: Foster The People
Favoured Movie: I Am Legend
Favourite Actor: Will Smith
Favourite Players: Owen Franks, Tadhg Furlong