White Rock’s Adam Kleeberger will make his return to the BC Bears and has been named team captain for the upcoming Canadian Rugby Championships (CRCs). The tournament, to be held in Calgary June 28-July 1, will see the Bears compete for the MacTier Cup against senior men’s representative teams from Ontario, the Atlantic provinces and the Prairies.
It is expected that Kleeberger will be leading a young, athletic BC Bears side. In previous editions of the CRCs, the Bears strength has been their formidable back line, but with key BC veterans like Conor Trainor and Harry Jones having already established themselves on the national team, the door has been opened for the next generation of BC rugby players to make an impression on the Canada selectors, who will be watching this tournament closely.
As Kleeberger knows well, the game’s physical nature means than an injury can spell disaster in a World Cup year, but can also provide opportunity for those who are poised to seize it. After an impressive showing at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Kleeberger appeared ready to become a long term presence at flanker for Canada, but subsequent neck and shoulder issues left his playing future in question. Following surgery, tenacious rehab efforts, setbacks and what must certainly have been some doubtful days, Kleeberger now has an opportunity to potentially regain a spot on the World Cup squad.
“Everybody has had injuries,” said Kleeberger. ”I have been fortunate to be in the spotlight, but I’m not special. Everyone at this level is incredibly driven and wants to be ready to play.”
While the Bears will benefit from Kleeberger’s punishing physicality on defence, his greatest asset to the team will be his leadership skills.
“I have been through this in the past, have overcome adversity and will be someone who the guys can rely on to rally the team when the situation is tough,” said Kleeberger.
That leadership will be of particular importance for this year’s CRCs, given the format change to a two game series and the must-win nature of the opening game.
“We won’t have a lot of time to develop a culture,” said Kleeberger, “but we share a common purpose and we’ll be able to build our identity quickly. We all come from good rugby backgrounds with strong skills and we’re driven to succeed. There is a lot of pride and desire from players to be successful at the provincial level and get to the national team.”
The Bears open the CRC’s against the Prairie Wolfpack on June 28th at Calgary Rugby Park, with the winner advancing to the title game against either the Ontario Blues or the Atlantic Rock on July 1.
The final team selection camp is being held on June 13-14 in Victoria. Senior men’s players who wish to be considered for selection should contact Bears Director of Rugby Dean Murten firstname.lastname@example.org.