Caleb Clarke has an incredible rookie season for the All Blacks in 2020. Photo / Brett Phibbs
As the selfless New Year’s celebrations will attest, Caleb Clarke’s feet remain firmly on the ground.
The 21-year-old’s rugby career trajectory will jump significantly in 2020.
He had a leading role with a Blues side that performed well in Super Rugby, leading to the All Blacks’ inaugural call-up and an impressive first five tests to cement his place as one of New Zealand’s premier wingers.
After an incredible year, Clarke went to the popular music festival Northern Bass to catch it in 2021.
But, as it should be, the trip was certainly not about enjoying its substantial success.
“Red Frog is the organization of my church and just people who go out want to make sure other people are good at different festivals and different concerts.
“We go there and distribute water and candy, and then the security will take us people who are really drunk and we will help resuscitate them. It’s just a way to help keep everyone safe during the New Year.
“It was my fourth Northern Bass as a Red Frog and, yes, it is a lot different from previous years. People ask for photos and other people ask to run straight, which is pretty funny.
“It was also really cool because I saw Jordie Barrett and Damian McKenzie too, so all the spotlight wasn’t just on me. If anyone came to me, I’d be like, ‘Bro look, Jordie Barrett’ and they’ll ‘be like’ where, Where’. “
Not that Clarke doesn’t take the time to contemplate the 2020 “rollercoaster” he could never predict.
Although it concludes with four straight starts for the All Blacks, the year for the 2017 U-20 World Cup winner begins preparations for the Olympics with New Zealand’s squad of seven at Mount Maunganui.
Covid-19 canceled that plan and although he turned the situation positive, the same words could not be used for the loss of his two grandparents.
Clarke says quality time with his ex-black father, Eroni, during the holiday period has helped put 2020 in perspective.
“A lot of that conversation was through Dad. We really have to reflect on how crazy that year was.
“It doesn’t really sink in when you talk to all the reporters and the media, it’s just words. When you really have heart to heart, that’s when it really starts to sink in and you’re so grateful for the experience. You have. , both ups and downs.
“The highs are really high and the lows are really low but I’m looking forward to a really cool 2021.”
So what exactly is meant by that?
After all, an extraordinary performance for New Zealand’s most acclaimed sports team will be followed with high expectations.
It’s not a burden, though, when a mile wide smile and a contagious enthusiasm are your two most prominent traits.
“[That expectation] will always be in the back of my mind, but I just want to continue having fun with my friends, “said Clarke with a grin.
“That’s how I look at rugby. It’s a really cool platform but in the end it’s just you and 23 of your other friends on the pitch trying to reach the goal.
“What I really got in 2020 is being very competitive. I can really feel the competitive spirit that is emerging around the likes of TJ (Perenara), Ngani (Laumape), Nuggy (Aaron Smith) and even with Rieks. and Aki (the Ioane brothers) here at The Blues.
“If anything, that’s what I faced this year. Raise my hands and be very competitive but, at the same time, have fun with my friends.”
A 21 year old teenager with a smile on his face, his feet on the ground, and a glass that is half full.