McDonald called back to work on Kiwis

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 15/04/2014
Invercargill physiotherapist Karl McDonald
BEND AND STRETCH: Invercargill physiotherapist Karl McDonald works on contracted Rugby Southland player Jamie Verran yesterday.

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Invercargill physiotherapist Karl McDonald says he is "fizzing" to again work alongside some of rugby league's most high-profile players.

McDonald has been signed on by New Zealand Rugby League as the Kiwis' physiotherapist for the next two years. His first assignment with the team will be for the Anzac test against Australia in Sydney on Friday, May 2.

He was previously the Kiwis' physio in 2007 under Gary Kemble and in 2008 under Stephen Kearney when they won the World Cup in Australia.

He stepped down for personal reasons following that success in 2008, but when Kearney was reappointed to the Kiwis' head coaching role recently Kearney called to see if the Southlander was interested in being involved again.

"I can't wait to get back in there. I really missed being part of it, so to get another crack at it is really exciting."

McDonald - who is a co-director of SportsMed Southern Physiotherapy - has built up an impressive CV working with high performance sports teams.

The other teams he has been involved with include the Highlanders Super Rugby team, Southland and Otago provincial rugby teams and the Southern Steel netball team.

Working with the Kiwis in 2007 and 2008 was an eye-opener, he said, and is a reason why McDonald - keen on rugby league - wanted to be involved again.

"The biggest thing I noticed in 2007 when I started was the professionalism of league players. I had come from the Highlanders to the Kiwis which I suppose would be similar to going from the Highlanders to the All Blacks, which is the elite of the elite," he said.

"The big difference was the work the league players put into their body, the recovery they do and what they do after training. They always hung around after training doing extras, it was a natural thing to do, where with rugby you had to encourage that. But I think rugby has come a long way since then."

McDonald will have an assistant physio at the Kiwis this time, a luxury he hasn't had before with any team.

While the current contract is for two years McDonald hopes he can extend that through to the next World Cup which is in New Zealand in 2017.

McDonald has again been reappointed Southland Stags physio for this season.

If they were to progress to the championship final McDonald would have to the miss the game as it would coincide with the start of the Four Nations rugby league tournament in New Zealand in October.

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logan.savory@stl.co.nz

- The Southland Times

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