How All Blacks can overpower Springboks
SPOTLIGHT: The All Blacks may have identified a lethal attacking weapon to overcome the Springboks in the Rugby Championship.
According to Crusader’s scrumhalf Bryn Hall, the rising star Blues wing Caleb Clarke could be the answer to All Blacks’ troubles during last year’s Rugby Championship season.
Speaking during Rugbypass Aotearoa Rugby Pod, Hall explained that All Blacks coaches should consider using Clarke’s power game to fix the set-piece launches that weren’t very effective last year, with the first phase carry often coming unstuck against the likes of South Africa.
During Clarke’s one season with the All Blacks in 2020, his power running was unstoppable at Eden Park against the Wallabies.
The wings’ dynamic play helped the All Blacks run out 27-7 winners.
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“If you look at when we played against the South Africans [last year], a lot of that time when you are winning that lineout ball at the front, our strike plays were giving it straight to the wing like George Bridge and Will Jordan,” Hall said on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
“They [Bridge and Jordan] have a lot of really good strengths, but sometimes if they are running into an openside or a hooker in that transition zone, a guy like Caleb suits.
“If you want to use him as a battering ram in that example, he’s a guy that could possibly get you over that advantage line and then start flowing into your shapes or maps of that.
“He’s not only just that, that’s a massive strength of his to run over people, but whether it be contestable or kick-chase to the ball, he’s a quick man.
“If he continues to have those second and third efforts, he’ll definitely be in that All Blacks squad when they announce it.”
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The 23-year-old Clarke recently demonstrated his power game against the Highlanders, exploding through multiple defenders to score a stunning try less than 15 minutes into the game.
Hall said that the 23-year-old’s ability to take advantage of half-chances and less room is a ‘massive positive’ in his favour when looking at the All Blacks left-wing options.
“That is one positive that he can bring to the international level as well,” Hall said.
“There isn’t that many opportunities you get where there is space in front of you, there is always one or two guys that you’ve got to beat to score tries or get over the advantage line.”
Former Blues hooker James Parsons noted that Clarke’s aerial skills have really improved with his ability to snatch balls ‘AFL-style’ out of the air.
“Let’s not forget, he’s got a well-rounded game,” Parsons said.
“It’s not just his power running.
“His contestable game, his ability in the air under the high ball. That’s why fullbacks go to the wing at international level works so well because that contestable game is such a massive part.
“I think that is an area where he’s grown into a strength. He’s catching it AFL-style above his head. A kick is only good as it’s chase and nine times out of ten, he’s right up there in the mix with it.
“I think there are some finer touches to his game that sometimes people will miss because of the highlights package that is rolling over the top of people.”