Donald ready to step up
October 11, 2011
Stephen Donald is set to provide back-up to Aaron Cruden © Getty Images
Bath-bound fly-half Stephen Donald is ready to step into the breach following his late call-up to the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad.
The 27-year-old, capped 22 times by New Zealand, is set to provide back-up to Aaron Cruden in Sunday's semi-final against Australia, having been drafted in following a tournament ending injury to Colin Slade - understudy to crocked superstar Dan Carter.
Donald was enjoying time off in Waikato before making the switch to Aviva Premiership side Bath in November, but admitted that he never gave up hope of a call-up.
"You're always hopeful and I was keeping fit and just waiting. My chance has come now so that's all I'm worried about," he said.
"I was down the Waikato River whitebaiting. I think Ted [All Blacks boss Graham Henry] had missed me a couple of times and then I finally got a call from Milsy [Mils Muliaina] and he said, 'Start answering your phone, you idiot', so that was sort of the message I needed."
Donald is confident that he will be able to step up to the physical demands of a Test return, with scrum-half Piri Weepu unlikely to be used as cover at No.10.
"I've had a good break, a good month away and have just been enjoying watching the World Cup," he said. "Now I've been given a crack and an opportunity here which I'm extremely excited about being a part of. Fitness-wise I'm pretty confident. Very confident."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside