Rugby: Clarke signs with Irish club

Craig Clarke has signed with the Irish club Connacht. Photo / Getty Images
Craig Clarke has signed with the Irish club Connacht. Photo / Getty Images

Chiefs co-captain Craig Clarke will head off shore at the end of the Super 15 season to continue his rugby career in Ireland.

The 29-year-old has signed with the Irish club Connacht for three seasons.

Clarke is the second Chiefs player in a matter of weeks to sign an overseas contract after All Black Richard Kahui announced his departure for Japan.

The lock has played 57 games for the Chiefs including leading the side to their first Super rugby title last leason.

"I was planning on leaving a few years ago but under the new management I was really enjoying it so I decided to stay.

"Then we won the competition, so I wanted to stick around and have a crack at defending the title.

"I've had some great highlights in New Zealand rugby including winning the Investec Super Rugby title and the Ranfurly Shield with Taranaki, but now it's time for my new wife and I to go on a bit of an adventure."

Clarke is in his fifth season with the Chiefs, is a former Junior All Black and a finalist in the Steinlager Rugby Awards Super Rugby Player of the Year category in 2012. He will not be available for ITM Cup this year for his provincial side Taranaki.

Chiefs' coach Dave Rennie said "Craig's impeccable standards on and off the field have helped raise the bar in this environment.

"He is a passionate Chiefs man and was a massive part of the success we had last season. His leadership, his work ethic and his attention to detail have continued to impress me.

"We'll miss him, but it's a great opportunity for Craig and Veree and we wish them all the best."

The Chiefs kick off their Super 15 campaign this Friday against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium.


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