Joe Wheeler can look back on an outstanding rugby playing career with immense pride, at the pinnacle of it he played for the Maori All Blacks out of the Highlanders and prior to that made his Super rugby debut with the Crusaders out of the Tasman Mako side.

PROUD DAD Joe and Courtney and their two children Indie and Billy

He enjoyed a successful stint in Japan playing for Suntory Sun Goliath team and had intended rejoining his beloved Mako side on return. However a neck injury forced his retirement from playing a couple of years ago and almost by chance he got into Television work, firstly via the hilarious Highlanders TV he used to front and now he’s a full-time commentator and comments man for Sky TV in New Zealand at present covering the NPC competition.

Rugby was his biggest sporting passion and when he had to make a choice It wasn’t that difficult

WHEELS ON FIRE Joe Wheeler in action for Sungoliath in the Japan premier league

It’s not a career path he envisaged during his playing days but typically enjoying a challenge, he’s making a fine fist of the commentary job as he slowly finds his feet.

COMMENTATOR ANALYSIS man Joe Wheeler finding his feet in a new challenge

“I’m really enjoying it. Still learning, finding out my way of doing things."

“I’m really enjoying it. Still learning, finding out my way of doing things. It’s just time in the saddle, like anything the more you do it the better at it you get.”

During our interview Joe reflects on his rugby playing career during which he had to make a tough choice as a teenager. Joe was also a very talented cricketer, a fast-bowler and hard hitting middle order batsman. He played for Marlborough and Central Districts up to under 19 level and was by then in contention to play for the New Zealand under 19 side.

However as much as he enjoyed cricket, rugby was his biggest sporting passion and when he had to make a choice

It wasn’t that difficult he said. 

TOUCHDOWN Joe scoring for his beloved Tasman Mako

Joe enjoyed all the teams he played for but the Tasman Mako still hold an extra special place because that’s where his career started and from where he got his opportunities to play super rugby and for the Maori All Blacks.

Loved his time in Japan
CHAMPIONS British and Irish Lions lock Maro Itoje and Joe Wheeler catch up after the New Zealand Maori All Blacks clash in which they played against each other

Joe’s brother Ben Wheeler did chose cricket and he went on to play for the New Zealand Black Caps as a brisk left-arm pace bowler and hard hitting lower order batsman out of Central Districts and his older brother Sam was also a talented cricketer, all three boys playing for the Celtic Cricket Club in Blenheim.

It is absolutely no surprise the Wheeler boys were good at sport. Their dad Mark Wheeler was a talented fullback for the High School Old Boys club in Christchurch and played age group for Canterbury and for Canterbury B but Joe reckons it was on his mum Cath’s side that the real sporting pedigree was.


Close Knit Family

Joe’s late grandad Ray Dowker was a sporting freak, Joe remembering he played nine sports for his province. Not only was he an outstanding batsman out of the Lancaster Park Club in Christchurch who played several years Plunket Shield for Canterbury. He played senior club rugby, rugby league and soccer and pretty much everything he tried turned to gold

As well as his job with Sky TV, Joe is now very much a family man, married to Courtney the couple have two children, Indie and Billy and Joe reckons that although Billy is still learning to walk, he’s already shown a liking for ball sports.

Listen to my interview with Joe and please share with your friends

Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.


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