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Injury won't stop Chiefs skipper running out one final time

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

It has been revealed Craig Clarke suffered a medial ligament strain during the semi-final win over the Crusaders last Friday, something that was kept quiet after the match.

''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.

''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,'' he said.

Clarke attended the post-match media 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, highly familiar with the team patterns and calls, and would be given every chance to come right.

The injury to the two-metre tall Taranaki second-rower comes just as the All Blacks coaches have hinted at interest in him after a couple of seasons of being ignored despite some outstanding form.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said yesterday the selectors would be watching Clarke in the final.

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

Rennie noted the irony, saying it was not the best time for Clarke to get injured in terms of the chances of higher honours.

''He's certainly up there with the best locks [second-rowers] 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 for the final, other injuries being limited to bumps and bruises.