Playing against the Lions is definitely a goal
Three Western Force Test representatives - Richard Brown, Ben McCalman and Brett Sheehan - have all extended their contracts until the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season.
McCalman also re-committed to the Wallabies for another year.
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."
The trio’s re-signings with the Force were announced Saturday - where Brown and Sheehan joined 17 of their Western Force teammates in coaching local teams and refereeing matches as part of local Junior Rugby.
Brown and McCalman have been part of the foundation of the star-studded Western Force pack for the past seven and three seasons respectively.
Brown, an inaugural member of the Western Force, has ensured the West Australian back row has remained one of the most revered in Super Rugby throughout his 72 matches, alongside the likes of David Pocock, Matt Hodgson and McCalman.
The 27-year-old, who has been capped 23 times for the Wallabies, says he’s excited about what the Western Force can achieve in 2013.
"I feel a level of responsibility - having been here from the start - to see that the club has genuine success," he said.
"I’m grateful for the opportunity the club’s provided me with and I want to be able to repay them and our supporters with that success.
"While the club is still going through the process of appointing a coach for next season, we have a core group of quality players that a team can be built around and moving forward we can certainly have a lot of confidence about what we can achieve next year."
McCalman, who has been a Test regular for the Wallabies since making his international debut against South Africa in 2010, has stamped himself on Super Rugby through his consistently physical approach and unrelenting performances.
The 106kg utility forward, who has provided coverage across the back row as well as lock at both provincial and Test level, says he is keen to continue the partnership with his teammates in the Western Force ‘engine room’.
"My preference has always been to stay," he said.
"We’ve got a great forward pack and I really want to remain a part of that. We’ve got great competition in the back row with guys like Poey [David Pocock], Browny and Hodgo [Matt Hodgson], and now with guys like Gus [Cottrell] and [Locky] McCaffery as well. It’s also been good to see guys like Nathan Charles re-signing, who was part of a strong front row for us.
"I’ve been in Perth for three years now and I’m very settled here. It’s a great place to live, I’ve got a lot of friends here outside of rugby as well which is a big part of it. The new rugby facility here second to none; it does make a difference when you’re here most days and it’s a reflection on the professionalism of the organisation."
Having joined the Western Force from the Waratahs for the 2010 season, Sheehan has held a firm grip on the side’s ‘9’ jersey, notching up 35 Super Rugby caps for the club.
The tough, terrier-like scrumhalf, who will notch up a ninth season of Super Rugby in 2013, says he’s keen to continue his recent strong form for the Western Force while looking to put back into the club.
"I’ve had three great years here, I love living in Perth and it’s home now," he said. "I’ve settled in here really well and the support we get from the community here is fantastic.
"Reaching 50 caps for the Force was also a motivation - I’ve had 50 at the Waratahs and I’d liked to be able to do that here. I feel like I’ve had two of my better years over the past two seasons at the Force and I’m really keen to continue that.
"I’m also really keen to do what I can in terms of developing some of the younger players, particularly in the halves. We’ve got some excellent young players like JT [Justin Turner] and Kyle [Godwin] who are great local products coming through the ranks; they’re getting better and better with each performance and creating some competition in the halves."
Western Force Forwards Coach Nick Stiles says the retention of senior players such as Brown, McCalman and Sheehan is important for the future success of the side.
"It’s really important and very pleasing to see these guys re-signing with the organisation," he said. "They bring with them a wealth of experience and, in their own right, they are three very good footballers.
"Browny’s one of the inaugural members of the Force and keeps good history coming through with the younger guys. He’s a dynamic player and since his double shoulder reconstruction last year he’s shown he’ll only continue to get better and will be very good for us going forward.
"Benny McCalman’s now been a part of the Wallaby squad for the last couple of years. He gives us a very good ball carrier, he’s a very hard worker and he’s well respected among his peers and throughout the organisation. To have him at the back of the scrum will fortify the strong forward pack that we’ve got and give us some consistency.
"And Sheeno’s a fiery number nine - like most scrumhalves are. We’ve got a young backline, we’ve got a new flyhalf in Sias Ebersohn and keeping someone like Brett is integral. He’s a real competitor and he fights hard for everything on the field and that’s the attitude we need for all 15 guys.
"We’re obviously having a change in the head coach role and there will be new structures and philosophies that come with that, so it’s important to have a group of senior players here who will provide us with some continuity going forward and some experience that the new coach will be able to work with."
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.
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.