Ben McCalman: “I’d love to be able to go back to Japan one day and play again.”

Wallabies and Western Force no.8 Ben McCalman during the Rugy World Cup last year. He headed off to Japan just four days after the Final. Image via Wallabies Facebook.

Wallabies and Western Force no.8 Ben McCalman during the Rugby World Cup last year. He headed off to Japan just four days after the Final. Image via Wallabies Facebook.

The Roar: Wallabies and Western Force no.8 Ben McCalman has absolutely no regrets about spending his off-season playing in Japan, and said this week he’d have no hesitation recommending the flexible contract option to teammates contemplating the option.

After playing with Top League champions Panasonic over the summer, McCalman is refreshed and ready to make his Super Rugby return this weekend, named on the Force’s bench to take on the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.

“Mate, I loved it,” he told me from Perth this week, of his experience in Japan. “Certainly a bit of a culture shock, and the language barrier’s interesting at times, but it was a very enjoyable style of rugby the boys played…”

Robbie Deans: Red, Black & Gold was a good chance to reflect

The Roar: I don’t mind admitting that I was more than a bit flattered when The Roar and Robbie Deans’ biographer and publishers got in touch last week, asking me to again interview the now-former Wallabies coach.

I’d only been thinking recently that it’s been well over two years since I interviewed Deans for The Roar, still twelve months out from the arrival of the British & Irish Lions, and with a back drop I’ll probably never top.

The backdrop this time around was much less impressive than when Robbie Deans and I last spoke...

The backdrop this time around was much less impressive than when Robbie Deans and I last spoke one on one…

Short of a text message I sent at the time, I’d not spoken to Deans since he was removed as Wallabies coach, but then again, neither had anyone. Prolonged silence like that often means that a tell-all book is in the works, but Deans never struck me as a book kind of guy.

As we’ve already seen from last Thursday’s ‘Fed to the Lions’ extract, Deans and Red, Black & Gold author Matt McILraith certainly haven’t missed. Just as the Wallabies found themselves dealing with the Kurtley Beale fallout, senior members of the team were suddenly defending themselves from suggestions they played a role in their former mentor’s removal.

For a man known throughout the rugby world as being “economical with his words”, Deans was certainly happy to speak in detail on a number of topics during our chat, and you can hear the full audio of what was a really enjoyable, and friendly but revealing chat below.

The ‘what if’ moments of 2013

Wallaby fullback Kurtley Beale slips while taking what could've been the match-winning penalty goal attempt on Saturday night. The Lions prevailed 23-21 in front of 52,499 at Suncorp Stadium. Image: ABC Grandstand

Wallaby fullback Kurtley Beale slips while taking what could’ve been the match-winning penalty in the first Test of the Lions Series. How different might the Wallabies year have been if he didn’t slip? Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: The odd hypothetical rugby question has been put to me in the last few months, and it’s always an interesting exercise to go through because it almost certainly changes your thinking of some fairly crucial events.

Another curly one was posed of me a fortnight ago, and it’s had me thinking about similar moments ever since.  So ponder these, if you will…

  • What if the Australian Crime Commission found no links to athletes?
  • What if Kurtley Beale’s foot didn’t slip in Brisbane? And..
  • What if everyone handed their homework in on time in India?

Check it all out, and the resulting discussion today, over on The Roar

Cheap Seats Episode 10: It didn’t start well…

The Wallabies, Blues, and our cricketers feature in the milestone Episode 10..

Ryan and O’Connell and I are in a celebratory mood for the milestone Episode 10 of The Cheap Seats podcast.

In this episode, me and Ryan contemplate what – if any – highlights could’ve been used if this was a clip show, while Ryan is unsure what my view from a media box on the opposite side of ANZ Stadium to where he was would’ve been like.

Episode 10 talking points: The Lions series decider post-mortem, and the end of the Robbie Deans reign; SOO3, and why things don’t look flash for NSW; the latest from the Ashes Tour, and this week’s Splash & Dash on British sporting success and Mark Webber.