Warren product Ben McCalman returns to Wallabies bench after injury battles

HE'S BACK: Warren product and back-rower Ben McCalman in action at Wallabies training this week leading up to the weekend's clash with the Barbarians. Photo: APP/BRENDAN ESPOSITO
HE'S BACK: Warren product and back-rower Ben McCalman in action at Wallabies training this week leading up to the weekend's clash with the Barbarians. Photo: APP/BRENDAN ESPOSITO

One area of uncertainty has been removed for Wallaby veteran Ben McCalman and the other one surrounding the Western Force captain is set to be resolved in the next two weeks.

A dislocated thumb and recurring shoulder injuries limited the 29-year-old Warren product to just one Super Rugby game in 2017 in the Force's final season in the competition.

After wondering when he would finally get back, the back-rower has played two NRC games and been called back into the Wallabies' squad for Saturday's game with the Barbarians in Sydney.

Like most of his Force colleagues, dual World Cup representative McCalman, who attended school at Kinross Woloroi at Orange, is yet to announce or decide where he will play next.

"I've still got one year currently on my Australian contract, so I'll guess I'll make a decision in the next week or two of where I'll play my rugby next year within Australia," McCalman told AAP.

Asked why most Force players were yet to reveal their next home, McCalman said: " I think it was a case of waiting; it was a case of uncertainty around contracts.

"The legalties of it as well, where people can actually go based on their current contracts, when they've signed their contract.

"What players are leaving certain clubs and where you want to go as well, so it's a combination of things and, unfortunately, that takes time.

"But I guess the important thing is we get the right result and I end up somewhere I'm happy and I can add some value to the team as well."

His personal injury battle, which included fracturing his right scapula four times in a year, added another layer of frustration for McCalman in addition to what all of the squad had endured, as they waited for their franchise's fate to be determined.

"It was an injury where I wasn't sure when I'd be back, so I was continually trying to come back and play and then I'd be about to play and they'd rule me out again," McCalman said.

"It's been a frustrating season for a lot of different reasons but, for me personally, to be back playing now is something I wanted to make sure I did at the end of the year."

At 192cms, McCalman is six centimetres taller than Wallabies incumbent No.8 Sean McMahon, who is heading to Japan shortly, creating a vacancy in that position.

The 49-Test forward provides another potential lineout option for a Wallabies back-row pool not overly blessed in that department or with height.

McCalman will come off the bench in Saturday’s clash with the Barbarians while Coonamble junior Ned Hanigan has been reinstated to the starting lineup.

Dubbo Kangaroos junior Tom Robertson also returns to the first XIV and will start at prop.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika also named Karmichael Hunt at fullback, giving the code-hopper the first chance to replace John Eales Medalist Israel Folau, who has announced he won’t take part in the upcoming spring tour.

"I think from June (in his debut) he merits the opportunity to have the first crack at it (fullback),” Cheika said.

"I think Karmichael has got that little bit of edge and X-factor."

This story McCalman back with Wallabies and starting to tick boxes first appeared on Daily Liberal.