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The new-look Emirates Western Force has received further endorsement with Wallabies forward Ben McCalman recommitting to the side for a further two years.
McCalman has been a core member of a dominant Emirates Western Force forward pack since making his Super Rugby debut as a 21-year-old against the Brumbies in 2010.
Now 24, McCalman has been a mainstay of the Emirates Western Force and Australian packs over the past three seasons, and will look to close in on his half century of Super Rugby matches (currently 37 caps) and build on his 21 Test matches in 2013.
Having represented Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup – where he scored the match-winning try in the Wallabies’ 21-18 third-place play-off win over Wales, McCalman’s 2012 season was hampered by a shoulder injury and broken wrist, playing just eight Super Rugby matches and missing the Test season.
Now back to full fitness, the former Australian Schoolboys, Under 19, Under 20 and Sevens representative says he’s reinvigorated by the changes that have swept the Emirates Western Force.
“I love playing for the Force, I love living in Perth and my preference was always to stay,” he said.
“Last season was a tough one, not just for myself but from a team point of view as well. It was frustrating being injured on and off throughout the year and that was compounded with the side not doing so well.
“But the past six months or so have been excellent and it’s exciting to see that we’re definitely headed in the right direction.
“Foles [Michael Foley] and the coaching staff have put together a very professional program. Everyone’s bought in to the standards we’ve set and the way we want to play, and I don’t think we’ve ever felt as prepared going into a season.
“I’ve always enjoyed being part of this forward pack with guys like Browny [Richard Brown], Hodgo [Matt Hodgson] and Pek [Cowan] and we’ve got a number of new and young guys who are really putting the pressure on. It’s also exciting to have a new backline that’s developed really well over the pre-season and we can’t wait to see what they’ll bring this season.”
Head Coach Michael Foley says McCalman’s signature is a prized one for the Emirates Western Force.
“Ben’s been a key member of this side over the past three seasons,” he said. “He’s a player that earns the respect of his teammates and supporters by being uncompromising in the standards he sets for himself”.
“He provides us with utility value across the back five of our forward pack, and importantly will develop into an important leader within this team in coming seasons.
“Our goal is to grow and develop this side into one that can continually challenge in this competition, and recruiting, developing and retaining players like Ben is a key step in realising that objective.”
Name: Ben McCalman
Position: Back row/Lock
Super Rugby caps: 37
Super Rugby points: 10 (2t)
Test caps: 21
Test points: 10 (2t)
Representative Rugby: 2010-2011 Wallabies 2009 Australian Sevens, 2008 Australian Under 20, 2007 Australian Under 19, 2005 Australian Schoolboys