Cult hero Donald set for Super Rugby return
Wellington - Flyhalf
Stephen Donald will return to Super Rugby at the grand old age of 35,
more than seven years after he gained cult status by kicking New Zealand
to victory in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, the Chiefs announced
Donald, nicknamed Beaver, was a late addition to the Chiefs squad
after young pivot Tiaan Falcon ruptured an Achilles tendon, coach Colin
"He is a good conductor of the game and will deliver for the team
when provided the opportunity," Cooper said of Donald, who was New
Zealand's fourth-choice flyhalf in 2011 but became an unlikely hero.
Donald was on the outer with the All Blacks before the 2011 World Cup
after being blamed for a loss to Australia the previous year, and
decided to go fishing rather than watch the tournament.
But after injuries to Dan Carter and Colin Slade he received a late
call-up, which he initially ignored believing it was a prank.
When Aaron Cruden limped off early in the final against France,
Donald took to the field, bursting out of a spare shirt belonging to the
diminutive Cruden because he had none of his own.
He kicked a wobbly penalty early in the second half which was enough
to give New Zealand a tense 8-7 victory and end a 24-year drought for
the host nation.
It was his last international and he went on to play with Bath in
England before making a temporary return to the Chiefs, captaining them
to a win over Warren Gatland's touring Wales side in 2016.
However, Donald, who has since had stints with three clubs in Japan,
will not be the oldest player to take the field in Super Rugby if he
does get a game in his latest comeback with the Chiefs.
That honour belongs to tough-as-teak lock Brad Thorn, now coaching
the Reds, who was still playing regularly for Highlanders at 39.