23 May 13
Harlequins confirmed today (23rd May) that Chris Brooker is leaving the club to join Worcester Warriors.
From a comeback after an injury sustained in September in front of 20,000 spectators and a live television audience, this was a humble return to grassroots rugby for the Quins full-back with only a hundred or so people in attendance to brave the strong Surrey wind on a soggy pitch.
It is testament to the character of Harlequins that Chisholm, along with fellow Premiership players Ben Botica and Maurie Fa'asavalu, found time to coach a local rugby club in a week where six of their starting XV are on international duty in the midst of the RBS Six Nations. Two more players - forwards Kyle Sinckler and Jack Clifford - are away with England U20s.
The European-leaders visit was something of a surprise for this small town, but Chisholm was more than happy to give guidance to young rugby hopefuls. "It's nice to just give something back to the community for the guys that come and support us week in week out, and go back to grassroots," he said.
The 22-year-old plied his trade at a club just like Farnham in West Sussex. Hayward Heath RFC developed Chisholm up until the age of 16, when he won a rugby scholarship to the prestigious Brighton College. His talent earned him a place in the senior Harlequins Academy, before signing a three-year contract to stay at The Stoop in January 2011.
Although the full-back progressed through the Academy system, Chisholm played most of his rugby at amateur club level. He knows how important it is to help develop clubs like Hayward where he grew up.
"We'vebeen into schools and local clubs to help - me and Mo (Fa'asavalu) are actually level 2 qualified coaches," he says. "Its just nice to get a perspective of the game. And you never know, the players might make the senior squad."
An ankle injury picked up during a victory over Leicester Tigers has cruelly kept him out of action for six months. Having contributed to the 16-12 victory over the Ospreys in his first starting appearance since September, it is clear Chisholm is fighting fit. In just 11 appearances last season, he scored five trys - pushing his total professional points haul up to 40.
Although fellow full-back Mike Brown has a firm hold of the No. 15 jersey, Chisholm has been given opportunities to stake a claim for the shirt in Europe's lesser competition, the LV=Cup.
With captain Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Ugo Monye, Joe Marler and Brown in and out of training ahead of England's Six Nations clash with Ireland this weekend - and while Olly Kohn is away with the Welsh squad - the pressure is certainly on the rest of the team to step up ahead of Saturday's fixture against London Wasps.
"Its tough for the squad because we lose key individuals,"said Chisholm. "As a team we know that guys have to step in if we're going to be in with a chance of cup finals. We're obviously delighted that those guys go away and represent the country but we know we have to keep the ship rolling.
"The guys know they have to step up to the plate: there's definitely that ethos there that we have to perform. We take each game very seriously. We want to win trophies."
With the club represented so well in the national England squad, sitting two points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership table and through to the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup as top seeds, it is hard to imagine that Harlequins will end their ten-match winning streak at The Stoop on Saturday.
Yet, Wasps would have won the last fixture these London sides played were it not for a Nick Evans penalty in the last few minutes of the match. That tense 42-40 victory at Twickenham in September could have been a sour loss for Quins, had London Wasps not collapsed a scrum with three minutes left on the clock. The Premiership champions had to stage a stunning fightback after Wasps raced to a 20-0 lead early in the first half.
Quins will this time have to play without their courageous captain Robshaw and without the sharp game management from scrum-half Care. Regular full-back Brown - who scored two tries in that Premiership opener - is also on international duty. His outstanding form for Harlequins saw him voted Ethiad Player of the Month for January this week.
But Wasps, too have had to contend with the absence of three of their players, who are away with the senior England squad - not least the exceptional young lock Joe Launchbury, who was a key part of England's shock victory over the All Black's in December.
Victory on Saturday will ensure Harlequins stay top of the Aviva Premiership table and provide momentum for what will be a difficult clash with Leicester Tigers the following week. Chisholm is restored to full-back, while Fa'asavlu is named on the bench after contributing to last weeks victory over the Ospreys.
As the Farnham lads put in every effort to impress these Premiership giants, Chisholm will surely give his utmost to steer Harlequins to another victory and come a step closer to a second consecutive Premiership trophy. In the mean time, though, he is happy giving back to grassroots rugby.