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Truro's Dawe honing his skills at world-class rugby academy in New Zealand

Kelton Dawe, a member of the Atlantic Rock U19 men's team last summer, is currently attending a 20-week rugby program in New Zealand.
Kelton Dawe, a member of the Atlantic Rock U19 men's team last summer, is currently attending a 20-week rugby program in New Zealand. - SaltWire Network

TRURO, N.S. – Kelton Dawe is living the dream down under.

Dawe, 20, from Truro, has been training at the Inside Running Academy in New Zealand since early January.

Billed as the ultimate rugby experience, the 20-week program focuses on development and provides players with comprehensive training schedules, expert coaching and support staff, state of the art methodology and world-class training facilities.

“My time in New Zealand is amazing,” Dawe said in an email to the Truro Daily News. “The facilities are top notch here at the academy, and the beaches and waterfalls have to be one of my favourite spots to go on my days off. But most of all I’m here to focus on getting to the next level of rugby.”

Dawe was awarded a two-part scholarship to attend the academy, where 50 per cent of the course costs are met. He is the lone Canadian at the academy and has been welcomed with open arms.

“They took me right in,” he said. “The players here are great and making me feel right at home; I really love it here.”

A typical training week consists of four gymnasium sessions, four skill sessions and games on Saturdays. Players also receive individual and specialist coaching and are educated on a variety of rugby-related topics.

“What I have learned is what my weaknesses actually are, and to keep training hard to get those to where they need to be,” he said. “If I want to do this for a living I need to train twice as hard to get there; nothing comes easy and I’m in the right place here.”

Mike Rogers, director and coach at the academy, said Dawe is an extremely hard-working and hard-hitting player who is respected by his peers.

“As a player, in typical Canadian fashion, Kelton is tough physically, he loves to tackle and is very good in the contact area,” Rogers said in an email.

Rogers added Dawe asks questions, retains information and is able to process new ideas quickly.

Prior to travelling to New Zealand, Dawe trained and played in Victoria, B.C., as a member of the Castaway Wanderers club. He also honed his skills overseas in 2016 during a six-month stint with Falmouth RFC in England. Last summer, Dawe was a member of the Atlantic Rock U19 team that won bronze at the national tournament in Truro.

“Not in a million years would I imagine the opportunities coming from rugby,” he said. “I’m loving every minute of it. This goes to show if you work and train hard you never know what will happen.”

Dawe hopes to one day play internationally for Canada. It’s a goal, Rogers feels, is very much attainable.

“Kelton is committed, so I know he will stick at this long enough to achieve his goals.”

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