NOSTALGIA briefly got the better of Ben McCalman yesterday following the Wallabies’ open training session, a return to his old stomping ground, at Kinross Wolaroi.
A former Kinross student, McCalman happily looked back on his years dominating in school’s First XV No.8 jersey after the training session, which was part of the Bush2Bledisloe campaign.
McCalman credited his former school coaches, saying his career had been shaped by what he learned on Kinross’ Main Oval.
The rampaging No.8 has made 63 Super 15 appearances for his beloved Western Force and has earned 32 Wallabies caps, and highlighted Richard Turnbull and Paul Tierney as two coaches who had the heaviest influence.
“They had a huge impact on my rugby, and gave me plenty of help,” McCalman explained.
“I’ve kept in touch with Richard over the years, and caught up with him a few times as well. It’s great to be able to come back for something like this, and see these guys again.”
WATCH VIDEO OF BEN MCCALMAN TALKING ABOUT RETURNING TO KINROSS WOLAROI:
Despite reflecting on his time at Kinross fondly, McCalman said there is one facet of his school years he’s not sure he wanted to stick with him, his nickname - ‘The Big Dog’.
The 26-year-old went on to say he has accepted he’s stuck with the moniker.
“Oh I’m used to it now, I got stuck with it in about 2002 I think,” he laughed.
“It’s come with me all the way through Super 15, and now to the Wallabies. It gets broken down, mainly from the coaching staff. Dog, Mutt, Hound, anything really.”
Born in Dubbo and raised in Warren, McCalman could relate to the Bush2Bledisloe campaign more than most, and labelled his return to Orange yesterday as “brilliant”.
“I haven’t been able to get back all that often really, so it’s great to be back on number one oval, I’ve got plenty of good memories here,” he said.
“A lot has changed since I’ve been gone, but to be able to come back and train here again is fantastic. It’s a great initiative.”
Following the NSW Waratahs’ Super 15 title the Wallabies hopped into Orange amongst a groundswell of support, with many suggesting 2014 will be the year they finish the All Blacks’ stranglehold on the Bledisloe Cup - no Wallabies team has lifted the cup since 2002.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me this is the year,” he said, just after completing his side’s open training session.
“I went home to Warren for a bit and they were all telling me how confident they are. We’re confident too, so fingers crossed this is the year.”