Every Sunday night it starts again. I put my plan in place for the week so I know exactly what I’m doing; I’m organised and I’m ready.
Planning is a huge part of professional rugby, and there is no better feeling than putting a plan in place with a group of guys as we work towards a common goal. Having a role to do and executing that in a team environment, whilst achieving that common goal is pretty special.
From a personal point of view, I place a strong emphasis on nutrition when it comes to my own planning and preparation. Being educated around this was huge for me to understand what food was doing for me; how it could help me achieve my goals, influence my mood, and my performance. Doing the basics well and having a balanced diet is the key to anything.
Going back to the early days on the Whitelock family farm, food has always been a big part of our lives. With four rugby players growing up under one roof, you had to be quick and there’s no doubt it was first in, first served. Being the youngest, and a bit of a mummy’s boy, I had the seat next to her, this was key; being in the middle and having easy access to all the food! Even then I don’t think any of us thought that a few years later, all four of us would be playing together for the Crusaders!
Like anything, to stay at the top of your field, you have to be constantly working, and looking for ways to improve. The older I have become the more I have learnt about the mental side of the game; it’s something I am constantly learning about and trying to implement good practices inside and outside footy. Something I do that I find useful is a circle of excellence. Every week I write words in there that I believe are of a high standard and help me reinforce positive thoughts. I find it’s always helpful to have these exercises in place, and it’s especially good looking back at when things may not have been going so well.
Professional rugby isn’t always the easiest job, injuries are a harsh reality of the game which can be both a mental and physical grind. And like anything worth doing, this doesn’t come without a significant amount of sacrifice.
Last year, I left my well-established base to move further south to represent the Otago Highlanders; it has been hugely refreshing! I have really enjoyed the people and city, as well as the Highlanders environment. I have learnt a lot from the coaching staff and players to play a different style of footy and really enjoy my rugby. It has really challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and grow as a player.
There have been many amazing moments for me in this game, but none more so than my All Blacks debut in Tokyo in 2013; doing the haka, running onto that field, It was such a special day. Those are the days we play this game for. A huge driver for me is to get back into the All Blacks and become an integral part of the team.
And as you know, it all starts on Sunday night.
LUKE WHITELOCK – CONTRIBUTOR