Courageous Clarke stepping up for Stream

“There’s more interest and pride from everybody here than what there was in Australia,” Sam Clarke responds when asked to compare his New Zealand First XV experience to his past in rugby league across the Tasman.

The versatile outside back, who mostly covers first-five or fullback, has been an integral part of St Patrick’s College, Silverstream’s unbeaten charge to Sunday’s Premiership Wellington final against St Patrick’s College, Wellington.

Clarke played in all six traditional fixtures won by Silverstream and has provided a valuable goal kicking option. It’s been a year full of highlights.

“My favourite moments personally have been my first traditional game against New Plymouth Boys’ and the Town game which we won by a record score in front of a documentary crew,” Clarke enthuses.

Clarke spent much of 2017 on the sidelines with a broken ankle. In fact a chequered injury history might go a long way towards explaining apathetic Australians.

Clarke moved to Perth when he was 10 years old and spent five years playing league in Western Australia where he made the reps aged 13 and 15.

Clarke then shifted to Endeavour Sports High School in Sydney where internationals Blake Ferguson and Martin Taupau were educated. Despite a respected reputation, Clarke struggled to stay on the field for long periods.

“I missed six months last year with a broken ankle and the year before buggered my hamstring,” Clarke rues.

That’s far from the worst injury Clarke has suffered.

Sam Clarke (Silverstream) on attack against NPBHS 1st XV. Photo: Dave Brownlie

“When I was 13, I broke my ankle and had two surgeries. I was in a cast for eight weeks an

d had wires going everywhere,” Clarke laments.

“When I was 10, I broke my jaw crashing into someone’s head trying to make a tackle. I had to eat soup for a week and spent more time at the dentist than I did at training,” he continued.

Why has Clarke carried on?

“It’s been my childhood dream to play professionally. I really enjoy the mateship of sport,” Clarke responds.

Silverstream have built a formidable mateship in recent times winning 21 Premiership games on the trot and scoring 1140 points. Silverstream won their last meeting against Town 52-10 and haven’t lost to Town since 2010. Victory on Sunday should be routine for the top qualifier?

“Were not taking anything for granted,” Clarke retorts.

“Town are a big side who tried to bully us physically the last time we played. If we can weather that storm and move them around we should be okay. We are a fast and agile team capable of scoring a lot of points,” he expanded.

Silverstream have lost five finals at Jerry Collins Stadium and stumbled in the decider after going through the round robin unbeaten in 2013 and 2014.

However Silverstream have won the only previous final between the two schools by 21-13 in 2010.

Silverstream edged Wellington College 17-11 in last year’s final. Chris Aumua, Todd Sevenson and Kienan Higgins scored the tries and have all kicked onto play senior rugby this year.

Luke Mannix, Luke Chisholm, Neyla Morris, Riley Forbes and Iona Apineru all return for another tilt at the title.

Clarke played a televised GIO Cup semi-final on television last year and Silverstream beat Gisborne Boys’ High School 26-14 on Land Rover First XV Rugby in May.

Clarke’s family are originally from the Chatham Islands. Sam’s father, Darcy is a fisherman and old boy of Silverstream. Sam’s mother, Carmen resides in Australia where Sam’s younger brother TJ plays league at Endeavour.

– Article courtesy of College Sport Media

Photos: Dave Brownlie