Planet Rugby

Clarke pleased with perfect goodbye

03rd August 2013 14:36

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Liam Messam Craig Clarke SR Final 2013

Emotional: Craig Clarke

Chiefs co-captain Craig Clarke said there was no better way to end his time in Hamilton after lifting a second Super Rugby title.

Clarke, along with fellow co-captain Liam Messam, has lead the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby championships, making them only the fourth side to do so in history.

Set to join Irish side Connacht ahead of the beginning of the European domestic season in September, Clarke was relieved to get the victory against what he described as an "awesome" Brumbies outfit.

The lock, who has never been capped by the All Blacks, added that despite enjoying his time in Waikato he was excited about the challenge awaiting him in Ireland.

"I'm pretty relieved after a performance like that, but once we get into the shed and around the family the sentimental stuff will sink in," said Clarke.

"There's no better way to leave. A 30-point win would have been nice, but they're an awesome Brumbies team that have a huge amount of heart and put us under a huge amount of pressure.

"It's a strange feeling after doing the same thing for five-six years. It's going to be a completely different experience.

"I've definitely enjoyed what we're doing here and there have been lows and highs, but we'll have a couple of days being around this group and then we'll move on to a new challenge.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie paid tribute to Clarke after the Final, praising his work on and off the field and describing him as more than capable of representing New Zealand.

"I will miss him heaps," said Rennie.

"It's not just his ability on the field, but his leadership and he's a bloody good man. It's a pity he's leaving, he's certainly good enough to wear a black jersey, but it's a chance for a new challenge."

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