James Mortimer 07.Aug.2012Getty Images
McCaw played through the Rugby World Cup despite having what many people might have termed a broken foot, and Clarke denied medical convention to play a full 80 minutes against the Sharks and help lead his troops to glory.
Clarke’s grade two medial ligament knee strain comes with a recovery time of six to eight weeks, and a careful week with the big lock managed to prepare him for his date with destiny.
The durable second rower, who also carries the tag as the Ranfurly Shield winning captain for Taranaki, has completed a rare double and Rennie did talk as tough as his co-captain, saying that if he could be strapped up enough, he would play.
When Clarke was absent against the Crusaders, the Chiefs had arguably their only off night in the lineout this season, and his leadership has been instrumental in the set piece, as well as bring the experience he has with being a half-centurion for both the amber and blacks and the Chiefs.
It wasn’t revealed whether or not Clarke has a bout of the dreaded injections, that Rennie hinted might be necessary for his warrior, but the 29-year-old was there for a remarkable 37-6 win where the home team finished on top in most aspects by the end of the match.
Rennie praised Clarke as well as the team, with his leadership up front part of a class Chiefs forward's operation also led by revived All Black Liam Messam, operating with Clarke as the co-leader of a pre-season tagged susceptibility in the engine room - but the Chiefs have made a mockery of this and been one of the form packs in the competition.
To stand in the face of the Sharks impressive start showed how far the Chiefs pack has progressed this season, with the team also proving dominant over the stereotypically forward focused South Africa teams – with the Super Rugby champions unbeaten in their five matches from teams from the Republic.