Recovering Wallaby and Western Force utility forward Ben McCalman is looking forward to play a major role in next year’s Super Rugby season.
McCalman’s absence throughout the 2012 Super Rugby season with a cracked bone in his shoulder was conspicuous, and the broken arm that cost him any place in the Australian squad was unfortunate, the end result could provide a blessing for the Western Australian side.
Forced out of his first Test season and Spring Tour in three years, the 21-time Wallaby is reaping the benefits of a prolonged preparation for the 2013 Super Rugby season.
“I’m definitely more motivated for this season,” he said. “Last year was a frustrating year being injured from Round Two.
“At the moment I’m doing my first pre-season since 2009. Besides my wrist, the rest of my body’s in the best shape it’s been in for a number of years and I’m really looking forward to getting my opportunity next year.”
McCalman, who carried the shoulder injury through the Super Rugby season, has been rehabilitating the broken arm he suffered representing Sydney University late last season.
However, operating under the watchful eye of David Joyce (Head of Athletic Performance), he has continued to make significant physical gains as he again looks to make his mark on the Super Rugby competition.
“The wrist isn’t too bad – I’ve got the final appointment with the surgeon on Monday and hopefully it’s given the all-clear to start upping the contact that I do and testing it out more,” he said.
“Joycey’s has been looking after me pretty well so hopefully I’ll return next year into team training and be ready to go for Round One.”
Able to cover lock and the entire back row, McCalman, who was labelled ‘the perfect all-rounder’ by Inside Rugby magazine, will be keen to return to the field fully fit and part of the new-look Western Force outfit.
With a large number of new faces in the squad for 2013, including a completely overhauled backline, McCalman is now one of the unlikely veterans of the Western Force squad.
However, at 24 and with two full years of international Test experience under his belt, he says it’s a duty that he’s ready to take on.
“There is more responsibility [to be taken], definitely,” he said. “When I look around and see a lot of new and younger faces there is a realisation that I’m now moving into the older group.
“Fortunately there are still a number of older guys than me here, but being my fourth year there definitely is more responsibility to take.”
Buoyed by the physical progress he’s made during the lead-in to 2013, McCalman has also been rejuvenated by the introduction of the new coaching staff and team management over the past five months.
“There’s definitely been a big change,” he said. “They’ve [the new coaching staff] adapted really well and all the boys have taken what they’ve said on board with their advice, new techniques and playing structure. Everyone’s really enjoying the fresh change and we’re all really looking forward to next year.”
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