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A Chippie off the old Ukrainian bloc

A New Zealand-born rugby league player with the name Chippie Korostchuk just has to have a good story behind it.

Korostchuk's mother is Austrian, his father is a Kiwi.

His grandparents are from the Ukraine and migrated to New Zealand after World Word II.

"My parents' parents fled the Ukraine after the war and migrated to New Zealand," Korostchuk told QRL Media, explaining his distinctive surname.

The 'Chippie' part though took a bit explaining.

Maybe it was a nickname he picked up as a kid growing up because of his love his chips?

"I don't know what happened there," he laughed when asked what was the thinking behind his first name.

"I think my dad may have had a few beers that day, was a bit drunk and thought it would be a funny name when he was signing the (birth) papers."

Korostchuk, 29, will add to his representative caps when he turns out for the Queensland Rangers against the NSW Ron Massey Cup side at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast this Sunday, June 17.

Rangers players are drawn from clubs around Queensland playing in competitions under the Intrust Super Cup, giving them the opportunity to push their claims for higher honours.

It's the same pathway that gave former Brisbane Broncos international centre Jack Reed and former Gold Coast and Parramatta flyer Jordan Atkins their big breaks.

Hailing from the chilly South Island city of Invercargill, one the southernmost cities in the world, Korostchuk was always going to start his career playing rugby union - a religion in New Zealand.

He made his first foray into the 15-a-side game at 15 years of age and was quickly playing representative rugby in his first year.

However, he switched codes the following year because the high school he was attending, Aranui High in Christchurch, was more rugby league influenced and he enjoyed the game more.

"The school had a rugby league academy which offered better pathways to becoming a professional footballer," Korustchuk explained.

When Korostchuk switched from union to league, he quickly made his way into a number of representative sides.

His talent gained him selection in the 2007 Junior Kiwis side which included the likes of Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Leeson Ah Mau.

"I am pretty sure Kieran Foran was playing for Australian Schoolboys then," he said.

From that exposure he scored a two-year contract with the North Queensland Cowboys' inaugural Under 20s side in 2008-09, when Neil Henry was head coach and Grant Bell was in charge of the Under 20s.

He also had stints with the Burdekin Roosters and local Tigers club before taking a year out of the game in 2013 to focus on his job.

He is currently playing for the Western Lions club in Townsville.

When he is not pulling on the boots he is the project manager for Benchmark Scaffold in Townsville.

With the benefit of hindsight, he believes he may have found his way into the NRL.

"Once I got past that 20-year-old stage and exited out, I was more focused on working and playing local footy, I wasn't too concerned about pursuing it (professional career) any further," he said.

"I guess if had pursued it harder and gone through the Intrust Super Cup avenue and played more higher-end footy, the opportunity may have come along."

Korostchuk believes the older he gets the better physical shape he is in.

"When you are young, you probably get into the alcohol a bit and write your body off a bit more," he said.

He is enjoying his rugby league more than ever, passing on his experience and knowledge to the young players because he knows how much it helped him when he was starting out.

"The older you get the more you enjoy it," he said.

"You enjoy playing with the younger guys and trying to teach them new things.

"When I was with the Cowboys I used to train with the senior players and coaches all the time and you would always seek their advice and listen to what they hand to say.

"When you're a young guy starting out you always look up to the older, more experienced players for guidance and try and mould your game around them as well."

A winger when he started playing league, the 188cm, 102kg back-rower still loves to run the ball.

"Wrapping up the ball carrier is a key defensive job but I still like to run the ball even though it's depressing the speed has gone," he said.

"I'm more of a ball runner.

"Running the hard lead lines for the half is probably my favourite part of the game now."


Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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