Stephen Donald turns criticism on its head

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 25/10/2011
Stephen Donald
FIONA GOODALL/Fairfax Media
THE SPECIAL MOMENT: Stephen Donald watches his successful penalty kick, which proved to be the difference in the World Cup final.

Relevant offers

All Blacks

Dan Carter pivotal to All Black's World Cup chances, says former coach Graham Henry NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew forecasts 'modest profit' for 2014 France 'loaded' on drugs for infamous 1986 All Blacks 'Battle of Nantes' test Former All Black Piri Weepu to leave London Welsh after signing deal with French club Oyonnax New Zealand Rugby says mosquito-transmitted disease in Samoa won't threaten Apia test match Andy Ellis earned the yen in Japan but lost chance to return to the All Blacks fold Richie McCaw refutes links with offshore clubs, remains mute on retirement talk All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa sticks with NZ rugby for next three years Malakai Fekitoa is set to re-sign with Highlanders and NZ Rugby Massive payday unlikely to lure All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw to France

Put that wallet away, Stephen Donald. Your fellow Kiwis are only too happy to keep shouting you free beers.

Following his successful penalty kick in the All Blacks' 8-7 win over France in Sunday night's World Cup final at Eden Park, Donald has been elevated into a cult hero.

After the match the fans – probably the same ones who previously slated him for his poor performances – put down their glasses to chant his name in hotel bars while others did the same in the streets.

In the space of 50 minutes the 27-year-old, the fellow once nick-named "Donald Duck" due to his awkward performances on the test stage, had suddenly become the people's hero.

His is a cracking story: not wanted by All Blacks coach Graham Henry for the World Cup, the Bath-bound first-five spent the World Cup fishing and watching the games with his mates in the Waikato. And as it all started to unravel for Henry, Donald inched his way closer to the ultimate prize. Top first five-eighths Dan Carter and Colin Slade were knocked out of the tournament with groin injuries and in the 34th minute of the final the next replacement, Aaron Cruden, suffered a knee injury.

Donald's time had come.

Nerves? Nah, not really, Donald said later. It was more a case of wanting to get out there and seize the moment when the All Blacks were awarded a penalty in the 45th minute.

At just 31 metres from the posts, any other day it was a regulation kick for the first-five.

"It felt good. I was pretty confident standing over it," he later reflected. "At the time I didn't realise the significance of it but it took us out to eight points and at the end of the day that was all we got." For all the criticism that has been tossed his way – and on the social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook it really got feral – Donald said there has been no bitterness.

It is more his family and friends who get bugged by it all.

"It is probably them that get in arguments in pubs and things about me. I just sort of brush it all off," he said.

"I would be pretty suicidal if I took too much notice of what's going on out there. I have always prided myself on fronting up, not trying to prove people wrong, but just trying to do a job."

In the build-up to the final team-mates Mils Muliaina, Jimmy Cowan and Richard Kahui joked to Donald that he would be the bloke who saved his country's skin with a late kick.

Ad Feedback

In return, he laughed at them. Rubbish, he said. But no-one is laughing at Stephen Donald now.

And his detractors should be among the first to line up the free pints. "I'll happily take those beers off them too," Donald says

- The Press

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?

Dane Coles

Nathan Harris

Keven Mealamu

Wyatt Crockett

Charlie Faumuina

Ben Franks

Owen Franks

Joe Moody

Brodie Retallick

Luke Romano

Jeremy Thrush

Patrick Tuipulotu

Sam Whitelock

Sam Cane

Jerome Kaino

Richie McCaw

Liam Messam

Kieran Read

Vitor Vito

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content