Representative Honours: Australian Sevens 2008/09, Australian Barbarians 2010, Australian Wallabies 2010-
Senior Tours: Hong Kong & Europe 2010, RWC (New Zealand) 2011, England & Wales 2011; UK/Europe 2013
Qantas Wallabies backrower BEN MCCALMAN has been in career-best form throughout a 2014 campaign where the Western Force have enjoyed unprecedented levels of success in the Asteron Life Super Rugby competition.
Having spent the offseason adding significant weight to his already strong frame, McCalman will enter the upcoming Test season with significant ambitions to add to his 29 caps for the Qantas Wallabies, eight of those coming during 2013.
McCalman was a member of coach Ewen McKenzie’s inaugural Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship squad and, despite missing selection in the opening two Bledisloe Cup matches, was an integral member in all remaining games of the series against South Africa and Argentina, along with a starting spot in the third Bledisloe Cup encounter against New Zealand in Dunedin.
He would continue this form into Australia’s highly successful Spring Tour campaign, where he would earn a further two caps against England and Scotland.
Earlier in 2013, his efforts for the Western Force culminated in a late call up to the Qantas Wallabies squad for the June Test window, as injury cover for Scott Higginbotham, who dislocated his shoulder.
After being rubbed out of 2012’s Test schedule due to a damaged nerve in his shoulder, McCalman finally found himself back in Wallaby gold in the third Test against the British & Irish Lions.
Before that, the abrasive 26-year-old was a Test regular in 2011 and featured in 12 of the 13 Tests played by the Qantas Wallabies that year, after he made his debut a year earlier.
McCalman missed almost an entire year of Rugby in 2012, initially due to a shoulder injury which required shoulder surgery. Frustratingly, the loose forward recovered from that injury only to fracture his arm upon return.
McCalman’s first run on start for the Wallabies in 2010 came at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on the historic night where Australia beat South Africa 41-39 in a thriller which gave the Wallabies a first win on the South African high veldt in 47 years.
Prior to last year’s injury, McCalman had missed just one of the 21 Tests played by Australia since his debut, with his importance coming, at least in part, due to his versatility.
The rangy Western Force forward has operated from four different positions for the national side, featuring at No.8, openside flanker, blindside flanker and lock in the Wallabies jersey.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup saw McCalman score his first two tries in the Wallaby jersey, against Russia at Nelson, and then in the Bronze final at Auckland, where his score sealed Australia’s 21-18 win over Wales.
The uncomplicated McCalman approach, which reflects a country upbringing, has provided drive to the Australian pack. He was raised in country NSW growing up on a 6000ha wheat farm at Warren, near Dubbo.
After developing his Rugby craft at Sydney University, McCalman was called into the Wallaby train on squad for the 2009 Spring Tour, despite being uncapped in Super Rugby at that point in his career.
He was picked up by the Force following a two-year pursuit for his services, making his debut at the start of a 2010 season which saw his career develop at a rapid rate. The new recruit featured in every game during his maiden Super Rugby season which he ended by winning the Rising Star award at the Western Force. Selection for the Australian Barbarians’ two-match midweek series with England followed, with McCalman starting on the blindside flank in both games and impressing to the extent that he was promoted into Australia’s squad for the Tri Nations.
After making his debut off the bench in front of his family, who’d travelled up to Brisbane from the family farm, during the 30-13 win over South Africa which opened the tournament; McCalman gained his second cap off the bench during the loss to the same opponent at Pretoria. Rewarded with a maiden start on the back of the scrum a week later, the rangy utility forward featured strongly as Australia snatched the historic late win against South Africa, courtesy of a sideline penalty goal from near halfway by Kurtley Beale.
McCalman was retained in the starting XV for the closing Tri Nations match against the All Blacks a week later, and set up Australia’s first try with a strong blindside run, as the Wallabies were narrowly edged 23-22.
He recently re-signed to stay with the Force, and in Australia, and become a member of the Force’s 50-cap club in 2013.
McCalman’s inclusion in the 2009 Spring Tour Train on squad was his second national recognition of that year. Unusually for a big man, the first had come for the Australian Sevens team during a stint which took in the 2009 International Sevens Adelaide tournament.