Schwalger revels in call-up

Photosport     29 May 2007     Photosport

The Wellington and Hurricanes prop, who can play either side of the scrum, said selection in the country's top side hadn't really sunk in yet after his first exposure to the All Blacks training in Auckland on Monday.

He hadn't given a thought to possible selection in World Cup year because, as he put it, 'I thought the team was already sussed.'

"There's a lot of good props in this country. I thought they would have been in before me. But I am just happy to be here," he said.

However, he acknowledged that in professional rugby anything was possible and his selection was living proof of that.

But having made his mark he is determined that it will not be a one-off. Absorbing the atmosphere of the All Blacks camp and being prepared for his chance should it come along in the Iveco Test Series against France and Canada is his goal.

A player who impressed the selectors for not only his scrummaging, but also his ball-running skills, he said he loved running with the ball.

"I did it a lot during my schools rugby [he played for Bishop Viard College in Wellington] but professional rugby is a different thing. You have got to do a lot more, like hitting the rucks, and the scrums and the lineouts," he said.

Professional rugby also imposes other disciplines, as Schwalger, a committed fast food fan, has found out.

His diet came under scrutiny with the Hurricanes this year. He said he got a bit carried away with his eating.

"I would go past a KFC and [sniffing] that smell…I would turn around and go back," he said.

But now on a special diet he can only dream of his fast food, although he had seen a KFC on his way to training.

"I am on a special diet to keep the weight off and they are pretty strict about that," he said.

The focus is now on doing what the coaches want of him, to do more with his running, to tackle more and to get around the field more. And at 120kgs that is easier than before his diet when he was 126kgs.