As his selfless New Year celebrations will attest, Caleb Clarke’s feet remain firmly on the ground.

The trajectory of the 21-year-old’s rugby career spiked significantly upwards in 2020.

He had a starring role with a well-performed Blues side in Super Rugby, leading to a maiden All Blacks call-up and an impressive first five tests to cement his place as one of New Zealand’s premier wingers.

After such a superb year, Clarke headed to popular music festival Northern Bass to see in 2021.

But, as warranted as it would have been, the trip certainly wasn’t about revelling in his own substantial success.

“Red Frog is an organisation from my church and it’s just people going out wanting to make sure other people are all good at different festivals and different concerts.

“We go there and hand out water and lollies, and then security will bring us really intoxicated people and we’ll help sober them up. It’s just a way to help keep everyone safe over New Year.

“That was my fourth Northern Bass as a Red Frog and, yeah, it was a lot different compared to the other years. People asking for photos and other people asking to run a straight, it was quite funny.

“It was also pretty cool because I saw Jordie Barrett and Damian McKenzie as well, so all the spotlight wasn’t just on me. If anyone ever came to me I’d be like, ‘Bro look, Jordie Barrett’ and they’d be like ‘where, where’.”

Not that Clarke hasn’t taken time to reflect on a “rollercoaster ” 2020 he could never have predicted.

While it ended with four straight starts for the All Blacks, the year for the 2017 Under-20 World Cup winner began preparing for an Olympic Games with the New Zealand sevens squad in Mount Maunganui.

Covid-19 scuppered those plans and although he turned that situation into a positive, the same word could not be used for the loss of two of his grandparents.


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