It’s kind of hard to say that a player has played under the radar when he’s the leading performer on a DI club, played overseas for many years, and played for the USA at the U19 level.
And yet, Kelly Kolberg has played under the radar. Widely considered among the best players in Texas, Kolberg spent four season (2005, ’06, ’08 and ’09) playing in Dunedin, New Zealand. He played extremely well and was highly-regarded. Coming back to Texas, Kolberg is now the leading player on ma very good Dallas RFC team, helping them to a series of solid results, headlined by an unlucky 15-10 loss to the Dallas Harlequins.
But Kolberg has not gotten a look from the USA 15s or 7s national teams, yet. Perhaps a victim of the change in Eagles 15s coaches, and the loss of the National All-Star Championships, Kolberg might even be the poster boy for talented players who haven’t been seen.
“He has the ability to play at the highest level,” enthused Michael Engelbrecht, who coaches the Harlequins, a rival club. “If anyone asks me, I’d say he deserves a chance.”
“My #1 goal is to play for the USA in 15s or in 7s,” Kolberg told RUGBYMag.com. “Everything I’ve done is to make myself better. I got to play with some Super 14 players in New Zealand and I really enjoyed it, and I learned a lot.”
Kolberg went overseas every years from 2005-2009 except 2007, when he was injured. At 5-10, 210, the 26-year-old played a lot of wing and some center, and has at Dallas played flyhalf and fullback as well. Urged to move to the Super League, he has demurred, saying the Dallas club supported him as a youngster and he wants to repay that support.
“I am excited about this team,” he said. “We are developing as a team and the players are learning about the commitment needed to perform at this level. I am very happy with how we’ve been playing.”
Tough and physical, Kolberg can also run and plays fullback now for Dallas because of his attacking ability. But on defense, he often slides in at flyhalf, where he can often cause havoc on opposing backlines.
“I love playing flyhalf defense,” said Kolberg. “I get to be right in the middle of the action.”
Dallas is 2-1 in the Texas DI league, just behind the Austin Blacks. Kolberg is tied for third in the league with three tries, including the only try for his team in a 13-11 victory over the Austin Huns. But more than that, he’s developing into a team leader, a player other teams need to stop to win, and maybe, just maybe, a player suddenly in radar range.
Our RUGBYMag.com Player of the Month for January is Dallas RFC fullback Kelly Kolberg.