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Olympic Rebel ready to scrum down

Tue, 01 Jan 2013 09:05
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Arguably the strongest man in any Australian football code

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Australian Olympic shot putter Dale Stevenson is determined to make a successful crossover to rugby as a prop for the Melbourne Rebels.

Stevenson, who made his Olympic debut at the London Olympics, failed to reach the shot put final and switched to rugby after he reportedly became disillusioned with aspects of athletics.

Four months after he tipped the scales at 138kg, Stevenson has cut down to 118kg as he readies for his shift to Rugby Union.

Stevenson, who turned 25 on Tuesday, admitted to having little experience in Rugby Union, having played just a few matches in high school, but said he is relishing what he called ''an adventure.''

''I'm enjoying the challenge. It's not easy but I didn't expect it to be,'' Stevenson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

''The big thing over the past few months was getting myself into shape so I can handle a full-time training load and get around the park.

''I fell in love with the game when I went to school in England but on my return to Melbourne in 2001 there weren't many avenues for rugby so I went down the AFL path before I found athletics.''

Despite losing some of his brute strength, his prowess in the gym still makes him arguably the strongest man in any of Australia's football codes.

''There was a 220-kilogram bench press, a 290-kilogram squat and a 185-kilogram clean [lift],'' he said. '

'While the numbers were down on what I've done in the past, I was reasonably happy they didn't fall off as far as I thought they might have.''

Stevenson will find his feet at the Rebels Academy and the Melbourne Harlequins and isn’t overly concerned about the physical nature of the game.

''That was raised when I initially spoke to the Rebels and they wanted to know if I could handle the physicality of it and not only hold my own but actually win some contests,'' he said.

''Over the past few months we've done grappling, wrestling and scrummaging and I've taken to it better than was originally forecast. I know it's different from a game situation but it is nice to know.''

Stevenson will look to draw inspiration from another former shot putter, Tom Court, who switched to rugby in 2004 and went on to represent Queensland and Ireland as a front row forward.

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