IT’S hard to imagine that there will be a prouder man when the Wallabies return to Orange than Ben McCalman.
Before embarking on a career that has so far earned him 32 caps for the national side, the 26-year-old was a former Kinross Wolaroi First XV star.
And after being born in Dubbo and raised in Warren, McCalman more than most has a great sense of what this week’s Bush2Bledisloe tour is all about.
McCalman and the Wallabies will be in Orange today as part of the tour, and says the Bush2Bledisloe is “a great idea”.
“I’m really excited about the fact that it’s going to be running through my home area,” McCalman said.
“Ewen [McKenzie] spoke about the idea earlier in the year and I was pretty excited for it to happen, and I know a lot of the other guys were as well.
“It’s important to start the camp well and I think to get away from Sydney and spend some time out in the bush will be something different for the boys and I’m sure they will enjoy it.”
McCalman’s Western Force side missed the finals of this year’s Super 15 competition, giving the forward the opportunity to head home and spend some time with family before embarking on the quest to bring the Bledisloe Cup back to Australia.
While he knows the task of beating the All Blacks will be difficult he admits he has been copping plenty of friendly advice from the folk of Warren.
“I’ve actually spent a couple of weeks back at home and I’ve been to watch a couple of Warren Pumas games and a lot of the old boys have been coming up to me saying this is the year,” McCalman said.
“It’s great that there is that level of excitement and anticipation, and that belief that we can do something we haven’t done for a number of years but at the same time there’s a process we have to go through.
“Even though we won’t have the Waratahs boys for the first couple of legs of this tour, we will be in full training mode and the sessions that we’ll be doing from Dubbo right through to the end will be a valuable part of helping us hopefully win the Bledisloe back.”