Caleb Clarke ready to rip into 2024

Caleb Clarke v2

Clarke said it had been a good off-season for the squad. The pre-Christmas training was solid, and their three warm-up wins boosted confidence.

But that was behind them now, and the Drua were a threat first-up.

"They're unpredictable. They're big, strong and fast so that it will be a good challenge. But I know we'll build throughout the week, and we're all very excited."

Having lost seven kilos, Clarke said he wanted to simplify his lifestyle, have fun with his mates, and play freely on the field.

"A big part of that was shedding weight so I just roam freely and play without shackles."

Playing in the cooler air in Japan was a shock, but he took confidence from the two games, and now it was a case of being selected to play and producing the performances.

Having former All Black and Highlanders coach Tony Brown join the group temporarily had been a boost.

"He's a good friend of my dad's [Eroni Clarke], and I went home yesterday to my parents' place, and he was happy and excited to hear that Brownie was a part of the setup here.


"Playing against the sides that he coaches, you always know he's unpredictable and he can pull anything out of the game. That's what I expected of him here. He has demanded a lot out of us. He wants all of us to give it 100 [per cent]."

Clarke said he sympathised with Will Jordan having to sit out the season.

"As a rugby you never want other players to get injured no matter how good they are for other teams. We played schools and Under-20s together and the next levels after that, so I am feeling for my mate, and hopefully, he can come back for the international season.

"I know he'll be good enough to come back."

But Clarke felt the Crusaders would again rise to the challenge of having a player plug Jordan's gap, good player as he is.

"The Crusaders have a lot of depth, so as much as they would miss a key part, you know they'll still be threatening and you're still going to have to be ready for them."


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