NHRU: Cal McDonald man for all occasions at Wanderers

JACK OF ALL TRADES: Wanderers utility Cal McDonald has juggled playing with his role as general manager. Picture: Stewart Hazell

JACK OF ALL TRADES: Wanderers utility Cal McDonald has juggled playing with his role as general manager. Picture: Stewart Hazell

IF you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.

It’s a philosophy that rings true for Wanderers general manager and first grade “Mr Fix-it” Cal McDonald.

On Saturday, McDonald hopes his day – his roles – culminate in a grand-final win over the Hawks.

Armed with a business degree and love for the game, McDonald was “thrown in the deep end” when handed control of the Two Blues’ operations in April.

“It was certainly a bigger job than I anticipated,” the 26-year-old said. “There are so many stakeholders. As a player, you don’t realise how many people there are who put in behind the scenes. I have come to understand who they are and what they do. I’m a people person and it’s all about people management and personal relationships. If I’m not playing rugby or training for it, I’m watching sport on TV. It’s my passion. I have a business degree. If I put those together – they say if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life. It is stressful at times but I’m really starting to look to the future and plan some things.”

McDonald’s on-field contribution has been equally important.

One of eight players remaining from the 2014 premiership side, McDonald has played inside centre, fullback and, most recently, fly-half in the 43-17 win over Southern Beaches in the preliminary final.

A former NSW Country winger, he is likely to return to the 12 jumper on Saturday.

“There are a lot of guys in the team who when something goes wrong put their hand up to do whatever they have to for the team,” McDonald said. “I figure if that is my role for the week, that is what I have to do, and I’m happy to do it. We have had a core group of guys here for a couple of years. We are a  tight group and you trust the guys around you.”

Coach Viv Paasi believes McDonald has taken his game to a new level since appointed general manager.

“When he first took it on there was a lot of pressure on him to perform as a player and obviously in his new role,” Paasi said. “Unfortunately, he suffered a foot injury which kept him out for eight weeks. On reflection that might have been a blessing in disguise. He was able to take himself away from the on-field stuff and really dive into the off-field role, understand what it was and make it his own. He is a smart guy, a good communicator and hard worker. He has the players’ and the team’s best interest at heart when he is playing, and he has the club at heart when he is performing his general manager role. His energy and his happiness towards the role and what is happening on field, rubs off.”

So how does the GM, and the glue that holds the Two Blues backline together, plan to overcome the minor premier Hawks.

“Bring your game face to the game, not play it too early in your mind… all those cliches,” he said.

“Hamilton in the past five weeks have played the team running near last and had two weeks off.

“We feel, especially in the final series, that we have taken a fresh approach to everything, wiped the slate.”

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