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'I have a new favourite All Blacks player' - fans react to Clarke's phenomenal run-on debut

By Online Editors
Caleb Clarke of the All Blacks makes a break (C) during the Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on October 18, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

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All Blacks winger Caleb Clarke has sent social media into a frenzy after running riot against the Wallabies in the second Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park. In his first start for the national side, Clarke ran for more than 130 metres and beat 14 defenders in what was almost a perfect performance from the exciting talent.

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Clarke had plenty of impact in his test debut last Sunday, where he played 11 minutes off the bench. Even with limited minutes, there were glimpses of his brilliance in Wellington.

But a run-on debut at his home venue gave the 21-year-old the chance to well and truly announce himself to the world.

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Caleb Clarke after blockbuster first start for the All Blacks
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Caleb Clarke after blockbuster first start for the All Blacks

Every time he touched the ball, he created headaches for the Wallabies defence, and proved tough to bring down with his unquestionable pace and strength.

Arguably the highlight of the game came five minutes after half-time, when the winger ran 35 metres and through five Australian defenders. The play then looked dead and buried as five Wallabies players crowded him, but he managed to stay on his feet, and run another 10.

Clarke’s brilliance and skill is simply beyond his years.

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The break caught Australia on the back foot, which let Ardie Savea scored a pivotal try in the next phase. Savea’s try was the All Blacks’ second in under six minutes to start the second half, and let them gain complete control of the fixture.

With 12 minutes to go in the match, Clarke was subbed off for Damian McKenzie. It was in itself one of the more special moments to come from the test, as the Auckland crowd gave their new hometown hero a standing ovation.

Fans on Twitter have thrown their support behind the up-and-comer, raving about his strength and desire, with one supporter impressed with how he ‘won’t give up.’

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The All Blacks number 11 jersey is famous in itself for the calibre of players who have run out in a test match wearing it. More recently the likes of Julian Savea and Rieko Ioane have impressed on the left wing, with their brutal and effective running styles.

But after just one match in the starting side, fans are already drawing comparisons between Clarke and the late great, Jonah Lomu.

 

Bledisloe III will be held across the Tasman in Sydney on October 31st before a potential decider is played in Brisbane a week later. On the back of his performance, injury permitting, it seems unlikely that Clarke won’t feature.

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