Everything Jebb Sinclair has done in his rugby career has been of a trailblazing nature lately in terms of the journey he has taken from the parochial trappings of club rugby in tiny New Brunswick to that of playing in South Africa in one of rugby’s toughest club competitions.
While wing Simon Pacey holds the mantle as the first player from the Atlantic province, certainly what Sinclair has achieved since his first cap vs Portugal in 2008 has been stunning.
With 21 Test appearances for Canada, as well as five other non-cap appearances, it has been a great ride for the former Fredericton Loyalist.
Following an outstanding World Cup campaign that also saw the 26-year-old as part of the dynamic trio of Beardos, Sinclair got the call he was looking for from professional rugby. The London Irish of the Aviva Premiership in England brought the multi-faceted forward into their fold, only to have him suffer a thumb injury after only a handful of games.
Sinclair waited patiently - staying fit - and got back into the Irish lineup in late February against Northampton, playing a total of eight games in his first season. But in May the Stormers of the Super 15 competition in the southern hemisphere were having a bad injury run, and they made a call to the Irish for a loan of the fiery back row player looking to resolve a dearth at the No. 8 spot.
What started out as a band-aid solution has turned into Sinclair landing a starting role on a team that normally features the likes of super star Schalk Burger - whom Sinclair has been replacing during his time in Cape Town, where the Stormers are based.
"Obviously I have landed on my feet down there for sure at the last minute," understates Sinclair of his move to what is arguably the top club competition in the world. "There was only one thing I could say and that was yes for an opportunity like that.
"Right now I am enjoying the ride, play good rugby and give it all to whatever team I am playing for for the best opportunity to win every Saturday."
But for three weeks Sinclair is back in the familiar role of being on the Canadian team. He came on as a sub in last weekend's 28-25 win over the USA in Kingston, and will start in the second row against Italy on Friday night in Toronto at BMO Field.
He says that he has learned a lot about himself playing with the Stormers, but he also has to be mindful of the different styles of play that take place from a week-in, week-out club setup to that of a tightly planned test rugby series that sees Canada play three games in three weeks.
"The speed is different, but I guess the planning is not as intense at the Super 15 level" he explains. "The Stormers let players express themselves from anywhere on the pitch. There view is a three on two behind your own 22 is just as good as a three on two in the opposition end and you don't want to be wasting opportunities like that where ever they happen.
"Manipulating defense is not just an offensive zone strategy," Sinclair continues. "With the pace and wheels of most of the back three in this league, if they get a half break, [they have] the ability to finish it from 60, 80, 100 yards out. You see it week-in and week-out on the highlight videos. It seems there are always one or two 80-meter tries."
That being said, Sinclair and his Canadian mates have developed a taste for scoring in the past few seasons.
"Canada - especially since the World Cup - we've really been learning to score tries and been an exciting team and learned to attack off of turnovers," he says.
He harkens back to when he first made the team - in non test appearances in the 2008 Churchill Cup - and how much the team has grown since then.
"I have been with the team four years now and it is really a 180 since (Kieran) Crowley showed up just how much more confidence the guys have," he says. "For me, coming back here there is a game plan I have to fit in with the team but any sort of experience I can offer or confidence I can give to the boys to show acting calm in situations and knowing that we can win tight games is probably the only thing I am really bringing back."
Despite such heroics as scoring the first try against Tonga during that important World Cup victory, Sinclair does not necessarily view himself as a pillar of the team just yet, though most of his teammates would likely diagree.
"It seems so long ago with my first cap in November 2008 (vs Portugal), so almost four years ago, but I almost don't view myself as the go to guy yet," he says matter-of-factly. "My style isn't very flashy. I'm just a hard worker that does the graft. The things I have to say are more work rate related pushing every play and doing the little things right over and over again as opposed to one big play once or twice a game.
"It's been weird to think of myself as possibly a leader or a go-to guy."