Wing and prayer: Clark’s Waratahs gamble
CAM Clark has re-signed with the NSW Waratahs for another season amid a nightmare battle for a starting wing spot.
With veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper set to return to the Tahs, Alex Newsome still there, Israel Folau playing on the wing for the Wallabies, and Curtis Rona also an option, Clark faces a stern test to break the starting team in 2019.
"Last year I was a bit broken and a bit up and down with my performance, so it's time now for me to take my game to the next level," Clark told The Sunday Telegraph.
"I want to put solid back-to-back performances on the park for the whole season, without injuries, and hold my spot in the team.
"I can't wait to get stuck into preseason training."
The Wallabies' coaching staff will work with all Super Rugby franchises more closely next year to best prepare the national team for the World Cup in Japan.
With Folau now playing on the wing for Australia, there could be a push from coach Michael Cheika to Tahs counterpart Daryl Gibson to keep him there during the Super competition.
Ashley-Cooper's impending arrival would also add heavy competition in an already stacked backline.
"Competing is healthy for any team," said Clark, 25.
"A lot of great players have signed and I'm lucky enough to train alongside and learn off them every week.
"It definitely pushes you to improve and compete for spots.
"I never looked at it as though I'd be able to get a start anywhere else. I don't think it's going to be handed to me anywhere, there are quality outside backs in every team.
"This is my home team, the team I grew up supporting, this is where I wanted to be.
"I'm really happy to have done the deal for next season and glad that the coaches wanted me to stick around as well."
Clark was hampered by injury before last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, and plans to ensure that by the start of 2019 he is in career-best shape.
"The last couple of years, having a few niggles, it's probably a good time for me to make sure my body is feeling good and strong," he said.
"That's why I haven't been playing NRC, I'm really getting on top of that and getting strong.
"Hopefully with another preseason under my belt I can compete and hold down a spot regularly."