New Zealand turn on Donald

2010-10-31 22:11

Wellington - The knives were out in New Zealand on Sunday for replacement flyhalf Stephen Donald who was branded the principal villain in the All Blacks 24-26 loss to the Wallabies in Hong Kong.

Former All Blacks Sean Fitzpatrick and Richard Loe led the charge, and the lines on talkback radio in the rugby-obsessed country were jammed with callers blaming Donald as they sought a scapegoat for the loss.

"Stephen Donald, I'm sorry to say it again, is not All Black quality," thundered Loe in his Herald on Sunday column.

"Playing for the All Blacks and playing for your country is an honour and a responsibility and you have to live up to it. I think he proved he can't."

Fitzgerald said Donald may have been great during New Zealand's domestic championship "but the step up is a big one - and I think he was found wanting."

The Test played in Hong Kong on Saturday snapped the All Blacks 15-match unbeaten run and destroyed their bid to overtake Lithuania's world-record winning sequence of 18 Tests.

After a slow start in which they trailed 0-12, the All Blacks appeared to have the game in the bag when they raced to a 24-12 lead heading into a final quarter.

That was when coach Graham Henry made the decision to substitute his world-class playmaker Dan Carter with Donald and the match turned immediately.

Carter was hardly off the field when Drew Mitchell scored to put Australia within striking distance at 24-19.

Then, with time almost up, Donald first botched a kickable penalty that would have given the All Blacks a nine-point buffer and then failed to kick a turnover ball into touch allowing Australia to counter attack and score the winning try.

"It's to do with pressure. When he doesn't get time and space he really seems to struggle," Radio Sport host Murray Deaker said.

Fitzpatrick said it was clear the All Blacks selectors still haven't found a suitable backup to Carter and expressed surprise that Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden, the young pivots who deputised for Carter in the domestic Test season were not taken on tour.

Sunday Star-Times correspondent Richard Knowler noted that Carter's ability "to run the backline and fire out pinpoint skip passes to his runners ensured the backline ran relatively smoothly, while his defence was also sound.

"For Donald, who was playing his first Test match since last year's northern tour it was a night he will not recall with any great fondness."

Replacement utility back Isaia Toeava was another player fingered as a culprit when he slipped to allow Mitchell his 61st minute try.

"Toeava has been a work in progress for five years now. Might be time to try a different work. This one hasn't progressed much," said Loe.

Gregor Paul, writing in the Herald on Sunday, drew parallels with the All Blacks quarter-final loss to France in the 2007 World Cup.

"The All Blacks made mistakes under pressure and paid the ultimate price," Paul said.

"In those electric last minutes, it was hard not to let the mind drift to Cardiff three years ago - the All Blacks under the cosh and unable to think straight."

But then he, too, pointed to Donald and added: "But that failure to kick the ball out?"


  • jumpingjacques - 2010-11-01 00:35

    All this criticism of the 2 replacement players and none about replacing perfectly fit players who were already there and in the run of the game...putting the Cart before the horse!

  • Billabong - 2010-11-01 01:27

    Aussie, Aussie Aussie all the way!! Remember the name James O'Connor. He's gonna be a legend. World cup nr 3 coming up in 2011.

  • Me - 2010-11-01 07:14

    CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE..... Typical AB. You are going to get klapped at home next year. Officially the worlds biggest chokers.

  • wally - 2010-11-01 08:50

    This is how the ABs are going to choke again next year at the RWC. Dumb decisions by the same dumb coach.

  • CD - 2010-11-01 09:08

    @ ME - what are you talking about! They have closed out all other games like that this season, there have been at least 3 or four more that have been that close, you have no clue mate, your bias makes you completely blind. Sorry did Ab's choke in SA in Tri Nations like all you muppets said they would? First loss of the year and you call us chokers. Sorry how many has SA won this year? Really think you should be worring about your own team come next year. When your team can win as consistently throughout the year as the AB's do, year after year (just look at the percentages) then you can make comments like that, but until then, try watching the same games we all do. By the way congrats Oz, much rather i was them than arrogant SA

  • David - 2010-11-01 09:10

    I must agree with Loe and Fitzpatrick. Donald has been a liability for the All Blacks for sometime now. Methinks that Aaron Cruden and Colin Slade would have done better than Donald. He missed a sitter in front of the post, and could not even cleared his kick at 79.38 minutes of the game. To perform in the ITM Cup to me says nothing. He could have been on fire there, but Test rugby is another level all together. The All Blacks selectors should just not even consider him in future. He could not even stepped-up to the plate during the Tri-Nations of last year. The earlier they get rid of him, the better! Slade for the job!

  • David - 2010-11-01 09:30

    @me - is that all you can say : chokers. It just showed your small rugby brain and knowledge. I guess you are currently envying how the All Blacks are smashing all infront of them. The poor Boks and Aussies and others are bearing the scars of it. To go unbeaten for 15 Tests (All Blacks) is unheard of in the modern day of rugby. Rather focus your negative energy and channel it to the Boks!

  • Orca - 2010-11-01 09:36

    Yes, laugh all you want, Ozzies, we beat you 10-0. Next near we'll drill you - again.This time you'll get fucked up big time.

  • Maz - 2010-11-01 09:50

    The Kiwi whine.... what bad loser - the worst there is.

  • Kate - 2010-11-01 10:05

    Oh come on!! This is such bull. When Dan was playing overseas Donlad he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Players make mistakes and have crap games sometimes. Sure they get paid the big bucks not to stuff up but give the dude a break. Donald is a great player. AB's are going to be bloody hard to beat at the WC. The big mouths are letting themselves cash cheques their asses cannot cover again.

  • @me - 2010-11-01 10:55

    what an excuse of a rugby supporter, typical South African mentality, that is why this country is so F-upped (by the way, I am a South African)

  • Not an All Black - 2010-11-01 11:11

    It's been clear for about two years that Stephen Donald is not good enough to play for the ABs. He is not international quality; they have better players.

  • BIGAB - 2010-11-01 13:06

    well it was very hard on Saterday, the Aussies played good rugby, but i agree that Donald is not up for it, maybe due to losing out in this years Tri-Nations aswell as Toeava it was shocker how he played never really in the game.But this is a good thing leading in to the World Cup next year and i agree Cruden better option even Wepu?

  • @ maz - 2010-11-01 13:46

    what would you prefer the kiwis to be liks SAF supporters and blame a worldwide rugby conspiracy against them? yeah you south africans dont whine at all aye? At least we look internally for our problems you pathetic loser rather than blaming everyone else.

  • MJ - 2010-11-01 14:52

    So the tally since 2008 is NZ: 10, Australia: 2. Yeah I'd rather be New Zealand actually.... especially when the problems are easily fixable. Aussies deserved the win but I think they'll go to Europe full of themselves and get shafted by England or France. After all we've yet to see this team string together 2 wins in a row. The Boks fans should focus on fixing their own shitty quagmire of a rugby embarrassment rather than getting overexcited about the AB's losing 1 inconsequential game from 16.

  • CD - 2010-11-01 15:07

    @Maz, take a look at the posts and the articles written by your countrymen during the tri nations, then you will find the worse there is.

  • Me - 2010-11-01 15:44 Please don't shoot the messenger.

  • @ me - 2010-11-01 16:58

    Whats your point?It names the All blacks 1999 team. what has that got to do with it? It is just an opinion from an English paper. It hardly makes it fact. You are a moron! Why do you not worry about your own underperforming team rather than attack a team that for the first time in 16 games by 2 points. Is it your opinion that if NZ loses it is always choking rather than the other team playing well?

  • # 1 AB Supporter @ Me - 2010-11-02 07:56

    You use that word very easy dont you? I guess thats what happens in your house when you have fun with your boyfriend. YOU CHOKE. The boks are useless and will be getting a true rugby lesson on saturday by the Irish. Go All Blacks....Thanks Paddy...

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