Former All Blacks scrumhalf Justin Marshall is tipping an imposing ball provider for a Check call-up as a possible substitute for Caleb Clarke, ought to the Blues winger be despatched to the Olympics in Japan.
What’s extra, Marshall has posited a easy concept as to why block-busting ball provider Clarke has did not make the identical impression in 2021. Clarke took the game by storm in 2020, resulting in comparisons to the legendary Jonah Lomu, such was his capacity to trigger chaos within the rank of Tri-Nations opposition.
Clarke’s focus is shifting away from the fifteen man code quickly in favour of a return to the shorter type of the sport. A former All Blacks Sevens consultant, Clarke is considered one of various Tremendous Rugby gamers competing for a spot in head coach Clark Laidlaw’s squad to journey to the Japanese capital in July, and made a profitable return to the sevens subject towards Australia in a Trans-Tasman event held in Auckland this weekend.
The transfer comes after a comparatively quiet Tremendous Rugby season for the 6’2, 107kg Blues again. Writing in his column in The XV, Marshall suggests it’s not only a case of second-season syndrome.
“…Clarke has struggled a bit since then and that may typically occur to gamers who burst on to the scene,” writes Marshall. “This yr he didn’t brush apart defenders and make the identical impression in Tremendous Rugby as a result of he was extra closely marked. That’s when gamers must make alter and discover their method into the sport.
“I really feel Clarke has been caught on his wing this yr and subsequently struggled for type as a result of he didn’t get the ball sufficient. I bear in mind taking part in towards the nice Jonah Lomu and Rupeni Caucaunibuca – as a defender you give every part to convey them down earlier than they get momentum and that’s what Clarke is working into this yr.”
Marshall believes Clark’s lack of type might open the door for Crusaders again Leicester Fainga’anuku, who at 6’2 and 109kg affords a near-identical bodily presence to Clark.
“What has impressed me about Fainga’anuku is that he needed to present versatility following his transfer to centre as soon as Jack Goodhue was dominated out. Some individuals say in the event you can play wing you’ll be able to play centre too however that’s merely not true.
“The working traces and defence – every part modifications. Wings transfer off their sidelines as of late and are sometimes very proactive, however centres don’t transfer as a lot and have to select their traces. Fainga’anuku did a fantastic job at that and confirmed spectacular composure and maturity.
“Fainga’anuku’s capacity to complete, break tackles and defend effectively should have put him within the body for the All Blacks this yr.”