Luke joined the club at the end of the 2018-19 season from Ealing Trailfinders where, prior to a frustrating season impacted by injury, he had established himself as the primary scrum half for a club which has been pushing at the top of the Championship for the past few years.
That level of experience prompted the coaching and management staff at Hartpury to not only seek his signature, but also to quickly install him as the Club Captain for the new campaign.
A native of Berkshire – where he first played senior rugby for the Bracknell club – he attended Bath University, which led to his first stint in Gloucestershire with our friends at Cinderford RFC, then, like now, in National League 1.
How did he come to return to the area?
“Obviously the boys here had a quite a difficult season last year and Pasty (Head Coach, Mark Cornwell) came to me with the idea that bringing in a bit of experience would help,” said Luke.
“I’d just come back from a knee injury and the prospect of getting regular game-time was very important to me. Plus, of course, the set-up and organisation here sounded as though it was going to be very decent, so all in all it turned out to be the right opportunity for me.”
“It’s been a bit of change for me. Hartpury is structured as a part-time club, which means that I’ve got more time to give to my other commitments.”
Ealing, by contrast, is very much a full-time professional environment. What have been the major differences that Carter has encountered?
“In rugby terms, it’s been quite similar in a lot of ways,” he said. “The style of training isn’t massively different and the way that both teams are trying to play the game is also quite similar.”
“The biggest difference would be the amount of time that you get to spend with the coaches – in a full-time environment there’s just more opportunity to get contact time and work through video analysis.”
“If mistakes get spotted, they can be addressed and fixed quickly, whereas here it may take a little bit longer, but that’s just a reflection of the amount of time that we all have together.”
Luke is very likely to be involved in the home Championship Cup fixture with Jersey Reds this weekend. What can Hartpury supporters expect to see from the new skipper?
“I’ve got good core skills,” he said, “and I also see myself as a good organiser who likes to control the game.”
“For Hartpury, I’m hoping to try and add tempo and create more space and opportunity for our outside backs.”
“I’ve captained sides in the odd game before, but this will be my first experience as a club captain. “
“I’d like to think it’s not really going to change anything about the way that I play or how I conduct myself. I’m very happy to talk to players and organise things – sort things out if they are going wrong – but I’d probably be doing that anyway, whether I was captain or not!”
“I like to have a big say in the way that we play, so being the skipper is simply an extension of that.”
Carter was a second half replacement is last Saturday’s game at Doncaster, but with Hartpury planning to rotate players through the opening run of Cup games – before the Championship ‘proper’ kicks off with a home fixture, again against the Knights, on October 12th – supporters can expect to see him in the starting 9 shirt this weekend.
Saturday’s game, versus Jersey, at the ALPAS Arena will kick off at the slightly earlier than usual time of 2pm.