The Blues surge through the opening rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa has put many of their young stars in the spotlight, and last night against the Highlanders it was Caleb Clarke stealing the show.

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The emotional Clarke, mourning the loss of his grandfather, put in a storming first half performance that had the Blues mounting a 22-10 halftime lead.

Clarke powered over through multiple defenders to score one himself before breaking away downfield on a kick return to setup Rieko Ioane for a long range try that set Eden Park into party-mode.

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Caleb Clarke of the Blues talks to RugbyPass

Caleb Clarke, like Hoskins Sotutu, is another second generation Blues’ player that has come alight this season. Caleb’s father Eroni was a mainstay of the Blues midfield in the 90s, playing 48 times for the club and over 150 times for Auckland at provincial level.

Clarke’s performance had many assured that the former New Zealand under-20 star would don the black jersey at some point in the near future and ‘decimate international defences’.

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The Blues have found the right balance within the team that has allowed the outside backs to flourish with the arrival of fullback Beauden Barrett.

Right wing Mark Telea has also been a revelation this season, and the move of Rieko Ioane to outside centre is paying off.

With midfielders Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, and TJ Faiane on the books last season, competition was tough for playing time.

Caleb Clarke earned a player rating of 8.5/10 from RugbyPass writer Mike Rehu for last night’s performance, the highest of any Blues player on the field, continuing his excellent form after an 8.5 against the Hurricanes.

 

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