It turns out the Wallabies had had enough of Caleb Clarke’s rampaging runs, that they tried something more unorthodox to try and unsettle the youngster during Sunday’s Bledisloe Cup match in Auckland.
Fresh off his stunning performance in what was his first test start, which helped the All Blacks to a 27-7 victory at Eden Park, Clarke laughed off a below-the-belt grapple from Aussie captain Michael Hooper during one of his many fabulous charges.
Speaking soon after fulltime on Sky Sport, Clarke was talking through his sensational carry which set up Ardie Savea’s second-half try, when he pointed out that he actually had a bit more to deal with than originally met the eye.
“You know what, Michael Hooper grabbed my nuts just then,” Clarke disclosed, with replays clearly backing up his assertion.
“I was really sore. I was trying to push his hand off.
“But Pete [Gallagher], our physio, said, ‘just get him back’.
“So I tried to do it.”
After impressing in his late cameo on debut in the 16-16 series opener in Wellington last weekend, Clarke was handed a first start for this one, on the left wing, having enjoyed a standout year for the Blues.
The 21-year-old was power aplenty with ball in hand, bringing a huge physical presence which so often blew men in gold jerseys away, and set New Zealand on the front foot.
“I was just real happy with the performance overall,” he told Sky Sport afterwards.
At one point during the match, a huge roar went up from the crowd when Clarke’s father Eroni – who played 10 tests for the All Blacks from 1992-1998 – was shown on the big screen.
And despite his splendid performance, Clarke junior had no doubt his old man would not be allowing him to dine out on his display, sure he’d be ready and waiting to once again go through his game with a fine-tooth comb.
“I could get home at 12 o’clock in the morning and he’d probably make me sit down with him and watch it,” he said.
Clarke said he was overjoyed to have his family in the stands at Eden Park on his special day, which came less than four months after he played in a Super Rugby Aotearoa match on the same ground on the day his grandfather died.
“After everything my Nana’s gone through this year, it’s just real cool seeing her here today,” he said. We’re blessed that she’s here.”
This content was originally published here.