McCalman re-commits to Australian Rugby
Saturday June 16, 2012
The Wallabies and Australian Rugby have received a boost in the lead-up to tonight’s second Test of the Wales Tour with the decision by the currently injured Test loose forward Ben McCalman to re-commit for another year.
The hard-nosed 24-year-old, who has appeared for his country on 21 occasions, made his debut during the Tri Nations win over South Africa at Brisbane in 2010.
He had played his first match for the Western Force in Super Rugby earlier the same year.
Hailing from Warren in country New South Wales near Dubbo, McCalman has been a constant in the Test side since taking his maiden bow, making nine appearances in his first Test season, and 12 (out of the 14 matches played by the Wallabies) last year.
Although he has been used primarily as a No 8 in the Test side; such is McCalman’s versatility, he has also appeared at both open and blindside flank for the Wallabies, and has been employed in the second row a number of times by the Force.
The Sydney University product actually first made his mark as an Australian Sevens representative in the 2008/09 Sevens World Series, featuring in the International Rugby Sevens Adelaide Tournament among the events he attended.
McCalman’s importance to the Wallabies set up was highlighted again this year when he was included in the initial training squad for the June Tests despite nursing a nerve injury in his left shoulder.
Subsequent examinations have also revealed a small fracture in the shoulder, with the timeline for McCalman’s return to play set at six to eight weeks.
The Wallabies medical team are confident McCalman will be fit and available for the opening match of the inaugural Castrol Edge Rugby Championship, which also doubles as the first Bledisloe Cup Test of the year when the Wallabies tackle the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on August 18.
Signing on with both Australian Rugby and the Force for another year means McCalman will be available for next year’s much anticipated tour by the British and Irish Lions, who will reappear in Australia for the first time in 12 years.
“Playing against the Lions is definitely a goal,” McCalman says.
“Continuing with the Wallabies was a big motivation to stay in Australia.”
“I’ve already been lucky enough to enjoy some special moments in the gold jersey. Hopefully there are more to come.”
Prior to the beginning of this year’s Test programme, McCalman had missed just three of the 21 Test matches played by Australia since his debut.
He appeared off the bench first-up, as Australia beat South Africa 30-13 at Suncorp Stadium, playing the match in front of his family, who had taken time off from their 6000ha Wheat Farm in order to experience his first Test match.
McCalman was the 845th player to represent Australia in Test matches, and is eager to complete his rehabilitation in order to add to the current career appearance tally.
“I’m happy with my decision to stay in Perth, and look forward to more opportunities playing with the club,” McCalman said.
“For now, my focus is simply on getting my rehab right, so that I can get back into it – hopefully with the Wallabies.”
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is delighted McCalman has recommitted.
“Ben’s record speaks for itself. He’s totally committed in every game he plays, never shirks any responsibility and is a bloke his team-mates know that they can always rely on,” Deans says.
“He might not be perceived as a flashy player but Ben gets the job done. We’ve asked a lot of him at times but he has never let Australia or the gold jersey down.”
The McCalman influence is evidenced by his record: Australia has won 14 and lost just seven of the Tests in which he has featured (at a 66% success rate).
His career achievements include the Wallabies first win on the South African high veldt for 47 years at Bloemfontein in 2010; the record-breaking 59-16 win over the then Six Nations champions France in Paris later that year; and last year’s Tri Nations success, which ended a decade-long drought for Australia in that competition.
He also scored the try which sealed Australia’s 21-18 win over tonight’s Test opponents Wales, in the Bronze Final at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
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