Caleb Clarke: the All Blacks presented a destroyer that surprises as the new Jonah Lomu

Powerful, athletic, fast: Caleb Clarke is the new Jonah Lomu and everyone is talking about him after his breakthrough in the All Blacks Source: AFP

Australian James O’Connor executed a kick that went to the center of the court. Just the place where the man of the moment was. With the ball still in the air, the 48,000 people in Auckland’s Eden Park they permeated the atmosphere with an expectant murmur. And, as if there were no other possibility, he lunged at her with savage instinct, took her in the middle of a leap forward, and took off. The rumor then turned into an ovation. Caleb Clarke it awakens emotions of those that in sport cannot be explained very well. It is so noticeable that he is different from the others that even those who do not understand rugby can notice it. The All Blacks fleet just dropped a new destroyer into the ocean. More agile, more powerful.

But we must not lose detail of that play at 5 minutes of the second half. Determined, he cut through the Wallabies’ first line of defense with a little leg movement and sheer speed. Nicolas White and James Slipper attempted the boarding, left and right, simultaneously. But before they could notice it they crashed face to face. They did not even touch it and they were ridiculed.

Caleb Clarke’s Power

Clarke is 21 years old. It is robust. He also stands out for his overflowing and unusual hairstyle. Its legs are like two pistons in a Formula 1, but they power the body of a Humvee. A combination of speed and unique power. Impossible that the first comparison (unfair, true), is not thinking about Jonah Lomu.

The wing that at the beginning of the year had as its main objective to achieve an Olympic medal in Tokyo 2020 with the team of seven, found itself, through a coronavirus pandemic, with an accelerated growth in the XV. First at Super Rugby Aotearoa, where his breakthrough with Auckland Blues did not go unnoticed. Then, with the natural call of Ian Foster to debut in the All Blacks. Upon learning that he was going to be a starter, during training, the world turned upside down. “I had to ask permission to leave practice for a moment. My stomach was queasy, I needed to go to the bathroom. They were telling me that I was going to play in jersey number 11., the one that Jonah Lomu, the most iconic player in history, wore. “Clarke said.

Caleb Clarke, the newest battleship in the All Blacks fleet; a true powerhouse that surprised world rugby Source: AP

His father, Eroni, also played in the All Blacks, and supported 10 tries in 24 matches between 1992 and 1998. The sports family is completed by his aunt, Sheryl, star and world netball champion (cestoball, as we know him in Argentina ), an activity that is also very popular in New Zealand. But Eroni was also Lomu’s companion, whom he met. “It was a big part of my childhood,” Caleb clarifies, “and I know it was a big part of my dad’s life. When he passed away, he was very affected, he was not the same for a few weeks. I feel that I have a great responsibility to do justice for the shirt. It’s going to be a special feeling. “

The heavy-looking container becomes unmanageable after pulling ten meters. It is a lively torpedo, but with an unstable charge, always on the verge of exploding. In a graceful, perfect and forceful double movement, he finished off Thomas Banks, who bounced and fell two meters ahead. He literally ran him over. And, at the same time, while holding the ball in his left hand, he used his right to knock Marika Koroibete off with a hand off. He did it with the simplicity with which an untidy diner wipes crumbs from his lapel.

Is strong. He always has a smile on his face. We will try to give him the ball from time to time. It is quite useful for the team

Ian Foster, coach de los All Blacks

A week ago, when he debuted for New Zealand in the first of the Bledisloe Cup games, he entered just a few minutes in place of Damian McKenzie (at 16-16, in Wellington). Now, in this resounding 27-7 that allowed him to win his first game, was the stellar launch of the new jewel of the men in black.

There are many things to tell. Because the play in question is not over yet. Next on the list of that action that did not last more than a few seconds, but sums up all the potential of Clarke, was none other than Michael Hooper. The experienced forward, as if surprised by the previous demonstration, missed the tackle. He saw almost like in a magic trick how a body of 1.85m and 107 kilos vanished from his hands. Finally White rejoined that withering action, gripped his ankles and managed to knock him down. But it was too late. Caleb presented the ball and Aaron Smith immediately opened for Richie Mo’unga, who assisted Ardie Savea for the All Blacks’ third try.

James Slipper and Taniela Tupou of Australia face Caleb Clarke of New Zealand during the second match of the Bledisloe Cup
James Slipper and Taniela Tupou of Australia face Caleb Clarke of New Zealand during the second match of the Bledisloe Cup Credit: MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP

Clarke hasn’t scored a try yet, but his performance was brilliant. It is not only outstanding. His peers are impressed by his maturity. They say you ask what else you can do to improve. Always in a good mood, with joy. More of him will be known at the Rugby Championship, when the Pumas have a chance to face him.

A couple of days ago, at the concentration in the hotel, they found him playing the piano, with his backpack on. “I started learning songs when I was bored,” he humbly summed up. This boy is quite a surprise.

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