All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke provides update on Tokyo Olympics aspirations
The 21-year-old became a household name globally last year when he burst into form with the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa to propel himself into the All Blacks squad for the first time.
Maintaining his form in his debut campaign in the test arena, Clarke impressed for the national side as his explosive power, pace and athleticism wore the Wallabies’ and Los Pumas’ thin during last year’s Bledisloe Cup series and Tri-Nations.
That hot run of form made him one of the most talked about players across New Zealand in 2020, but it is often forgotten Clarke was plying his trade on the World Sevens Series in the earlier part of the year prior to the global outbreak of COVID-19.
Starring for the All Blacks Sevens, the youngster was aiming to participate in the Tokyo Olympics, which had been scheduled to take place midway through last year, but has since been postponed July and August this year.
Had COVID-19 never eventuated, Clarke would likely have been a lock-in inclusion in Clark Laidlaw’s squad to travel to the Japanese capital in pursuit of a gold medal.
However, following his breakout campaign in the realm of XVs, Clarke’s involvement in the national sevens camp remains unclear as his services are in high demand from the All Blacks, All Blacks Sevens and Blues.
The man himself told Stuff earlier this week he is still yet to make a call on where his allegiances lie this season, although he conceded the lure of chasing an Olympic medal is a tantalising prospect.
“I’m just taking one step at a time,” Clarke said.“For now it’s with the Blues, and whenever a sevens call-up happens, that’s when I’ll make that decision again.
“But the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a lot of athletes, and it definitely still appeals, if I can fit it in.”
Clarke’s comments echo those he made in an exclusive interview with The XV at the end of last year, when he said he would make a decision on his Olympic bid in 2021.
“I’m honestly just really looking forward to this time off now,” he said while in quarantine after the All Blacks arrived back in New Zealand from their title-winning Tri-Nations campaign in Australia.
“That’s what my next focus is, having a good break, spending time with family, spending time with friends, maybe getting out of Auckland and seeing New Zealand.”
Since then, Clarke has featured in both of the Blues’ opening Super Rugby Aotearoa matches this season, and has been named to start again for the Auckland franchise in their highly-anticipated clash with the Crusaders at Eden Park on Sunday.
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