Captain Craig Clarke needs a quick recovery

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2012
Craig Clarke
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
LATE PASS: Craig Clarke of the Chiefs.

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The Chiefs will do everything they can to get their skipper on the field for Saturday night's Super Rugby final.

It has been revealed Craig Clarke suffered a medial ligament strain in his knee during the semifinal win over the Crusaders last Friday, something kept quiet after that match, and he is a 50-50 prospect for the final.

"He'll be on light duties till about Thursday when we'll make a decision," Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said yesterday.

Rennie said Clarke was aware during the match that he had injured his knee and the team doctor had kept an eye on him.

"But while he was warm he still got around pretty well, so if we can get it to where it was last Friday then we'll look at maybe injecting him, strap it up and get him back out there," Rennie said.

Clarke attended the post-match press conference on Friday night and neither he nor Rennie gave any hint of an injury at that stage.

Rennie said yesterday Clarke was an integral part of the Chiefs pack who was highly familiar with team patterns and calls and he would be given every chance to come right.

The injury to the 2m Taranaki lock comes just as the All Blacks' coaches have hinted at some possible interest in him after a couple of seasons of being ignored, despite some outstanding form and statistics to back him up.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told media yesterday the selectors would be watching Clarke in the final against the Sharks as they continued to monitor his form.

Clarke would be the logical cover for the injured Ali Williams and Luke Romano in an All Blacks squad where Sam Whitelock, Romano and Clarke's second-row partner from the Chiefs, Brodie Retallick, are expected to be the frontrunners.

Rennie noted the irony of that and Clarke's injury, saying it was not the best time for him to get injured in terms of the chance of higher honours.

"He's certainly up there with the best locks in the country, and while I know his mind is firmly on our stuff at the moment, this is what happens when a team goes well - people stand up and start to get recognised at the next level.

"It's great for our guys and great for Craig."

Rennie confirmed Clarke was the only serious injury concern for the Chiefs ahead of the final.

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