New Zealand vs Tonga

McCalman extends stay Down Under

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 07:10
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Wallaby and Force utility forward Ben McCalman is staying Down Under after extending his contract with the ARU.

Wallaby and Western Force utility forward Ben McCalman is staying Down Under after extending his contract with the Australian Rugby Union and the Perth-based franchise by a further two years through until the end of 2015.

The news follows in the footsteps of the retention of the experienced Brumbies front row forwards Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander, as the core of the recent Wallabies playing group begins to reaffirm their commitment to Australian Rugby.

McCalman, who is a product of the Sydney University club but has been based in Western Australia since his debut for the Force in 2010, was forced to miss last season's entire Test programme due to a nerve injury in his shoulder, which was followed by a broken forearm during his return to playing duties at club level.

Although frustrated, the 24-year-old is determined to make up for the lost time this year in the quest to add to the 21 Test appearances he currently has, while also bidding for a spot at his second World Cup, in England in 2015.

"It wasn't easy missing out [on the Wallabies] last year but the break has given me a decent rest and added to the hunger to get back. I've had a good off-season, have enjoyed getting back into my work with the Force and can't wait to get started again," McCalman said.

"There's a lot to look forward to this year with a new coaching team and a lot of new faces at the Force, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of playing against the British & Irish Lions, and then the Rugby Championship and Spring Tour after that."

Prior to last year's mishaps, McCalman had compiled an impressive Wallaby resume, despite often flying under the radar compared to some of his higher profile team-mates.

The versatile forward, who has featured in four different positions in the Australian forward pack, achieved the rare feat of making a Test debut in the same year, 2010, as he had made his maiden appearance in Super Rugby.

After playing all 13 games of his debut Super Rugby season with the Force, McCalman was acknowledged by winning the club's Rising Star award.

He was then selected in the Australian Barbarians side for the midweek series against England, winning inclusion from there in Australia's Tri-Nations squad, which brought a Test debut off the bench against South Africa in Brisbane.

His second and third Test appearances also came against the Springboks, during that year's South African tour, with his first starting role coinciding with Australia's historic 41-39 win over South Africa at Bloemfontein which represented the Wallabies' first win on the high veldt in the Republic for 47 years.

The South African matches saw McCalman establish himself as a regular in the Wallaby match night squad, to the extent that he had missed just one game between his second and 21st Test appearances, prior to that sequence being halted by last year's injuries.

McCalman's two Test tries [against Russia and Wales] were both scored during the 2011 World Cup and he admits that representing Australia at the 2015 edition is a long-term goal.

"Absolutely, although there's a lot of rugby to be played between now and then," McCalman said.

"If you look at last year, while it was a difficult time because of all of the injuries, a lot of new blokes got a chance and many of them took it.

"That adds to the depth of players with Test experience, while intensifying the competition for places across the board. I think we will see that first up in Super Rugby this year, because everyone is going to be desperate to get a shot at playing a Test against the Lions."

Although groomed at Sydney University, and via the Australian Sevens programme in 2009 and 2010, McCalman has proved a flag bearer for the country game in Australia, having been raised on a 6000ha wheat farm at Warren, near Dubbo, in country NSW.

Given that background, he is delighted that Australian Country's finest will get their opportunity to tackle the Lions, when the tourists play a combined Queensland & NSW Country representative side at Newcastle on 11 June.

"There are a growing number of guys running around in Super Rugby that started off playing country rugby. It's great that the Australian Rugby Union has recognised that by including the country game on the fixture list for the Lions tour," McCalman said.

"That will be a massive night, both for the country players and their families and friends, but also the wider country rugby community as a whole. Who knows? Playing on that stage might just help to propel a few of those guys into Super Rugby, and who knows where things can lead from there."

The highly anticipated 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour to Australia will kick off in Perth on Wednesday 5 June with the tourists set to face all five Australian Super Rugby Franchises and a combined NSW and Queensland Country team as part of their nine game tour.

The Wallabies will meet the Lions in three Tests, the first on Saturday 22 June at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the second on Saturday 29 June at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne and the third and final Test in Sydney on Saturday 6 June at ANZ Stadium.

New Zealand vs Tonga
sast: 21h00 | local: 23h00

  • 14 | 3
Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 12h00 Bloemfontein
Samoa v Scotland 13h30 Newcastle
Golden Lions v Griquas 14h00 Ellis Park
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Fri, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h00 Pretoria
Fri, 09 October 2015
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Leinster v Dragons 37 | 13
Griquas v Sharks 20 | 45
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26