The All Blacks wing who could be the latest star to switch to rugby league

Colin Newboult
Caleb Clarke in action for the All Blacks in 2023.

Caleb Clarke in action for the All Blacks in 2023.

All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke is preparing for the new Super Rugby Pacific season by training with rugby league side South Sydney Rabbitohs, and it could be a sign of things to come.

The flyer had a training session with the NRL outfit on Tuesday and will also take to the field on Thursday after linking up with the club.

Clarke is spending pre-season with the Sydney-based side in an attempt to “do something different” after a frustrating 2023.

He will be looking to force his way back into the New Zealand 23 and become a regular in Scott Robertson’s team in 2024.

Out of contract

If he fails to achieve that goal then a move to the 13-a-side code could very much be on the cards for the Blues star, given that he is out of contract at the end of the season.

It is a sport that Clarke clearly admires and one that he would love to play at some stage of his career.

“I said it a few years ago, it’s always been a lifelong dream to be able to play in a different code and play league,” he told reporters.

“I grew up playing a few years of league in high school, and I find it a lot more enjoyable watching league than I do watching rugby, because rugby is a job for me and I have to watch it all the time.

“I find the game so much more enjoyable. Doing that session [on Tuesday], I respect it so much more because it’s so fast and you don’t have much time to think. We’ll definitely see what happens down the track.”

The Rabbitohs are also open to the idea of bringing Clarke to the NRL, with the wing impressing during his first training session.

“If there’s an option down the line for him to come over to rugby league, there’s no doubt we’d be sitting at the table, for sure,” coach Jason Demetriou said.

“He was really polite and engaging, and slotted in seamlessly to be fair. It was set up today to be attack-focused, and he defended well in the system. He also jumped in and did some reps with the ‘red side’ [the more experienced players].

“He clearly reads space really well. It was just great to have him in here.”

Taking inspiration from All Blacks team-mate

Clarke has followed in the footsteps of Jordie Barrett, who spent last pre-season at the Rabbitohs’ NRL rivals, Melbourne Storm.

The 24-year-old says that he took inspiration from the All Blacks centre and hopes that it pays off during the 2024 campaign.

“I’ve always been a Rabbitohs fan and thought, in my time off before I join the Blues campaign, I can look to learn off the NRL boys,” he told Newshub.

“After a year that didn’t go as well as I hoped for, I want to do something different in terms of preparation for 2024.

“Being around an environment with people I look up to and can learn from can bring the edge I want to get and take into this new season. I am always looking to improve my game.

“I saw Jordie Barrett train with the Storm last year and thought I would do the same.”

READ MORE: What TJ Perenara’s return means for All Black prodigy Cam Roigard