Donald's heroic kick to be made into movie

Last updated 12:55 04/07/2013
Stephen Donald
JASON OXENHAM/Fairfax NZ
THAT KICK: Stephen Donald lines up the penalty that would see the All Blacks clinch the 2011 World Cup final.

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The moment that had a nation holding their breath is set for the small screen, with a television movie based on Stephen Donald's World Cup clinching kick approved for NZ On Air funding.

It was revealed in February that NZ On Air were considering funding the project, which will be produced by Great Southern Television.

Donald became a cult figure in New Zealand after he was called up to the All Blacks as the fourth-string No 10 for the World Cup final.

His previously poor efforts in the black jersey meant a collective groan was heard around New Zealand when he came on in the final for an injured Aaron Cruden.

Those groans soon turned to cheers though when the Waikato man in the ill-fitting jersey nailed a penalty to see the All Blacks home 8-7 over France.

NZ On Air has put up $2.7m for The Kick, which will be broadcast on TV One in the Sunday Theatre slot.

Dominion Post cartoonist Tom Scott has written the screenplay, despite being one of those who poked fun at Donald in the leadup to the final.

"I wouldn't have thought in a million years that I would be the one doing it," he said.

It was a "charming" story of redemption, with Donald bouncing back from widespread derision to become a national folk hero with a single penalty kick. "The way he was treated was appalling, and he handled it so well, without bitterness, without rancour.

"Here was a guy who was rejected by the fans, rejected by his own province even. He couldn't bear to watch the All Blacks play in the tournament - he was lying on the couch, drinking beer and eating chips.

"Then his mate persuaded him to go whitebaiting and he gets a call from Graham Henry."

Earlier in the year, Donald himself said he was surprised that a movie on him had even been proposed.

"It's a little bit bizarre," he told Radio Sport at the time.

"At the start I thought it was a bit outrageous but I guess it's easier to do that than a book.

"I guess it's something I'll always be able to have."

Great Southern Television managing director Philip Smith said he hoped shooting would begin later this year.

He, too, was drawn to the tale of redemption. "He suffered national rejection, and all of a sudden we needed him.

"We haven't cast the movie yet...but it will be fun to see who plays Piri Weepu, Richie McCaw, Graham Henry - and, of course, Stephen Donald."

CGI (computer-generated imagery) will recreate parts of the match for the film.

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Smith promised healthy doses of humour, and some insights into the All Black camp. "We do deal with issues like the tall poppy syndrome, the public rejection...but it is delivered with a lovely humorous touch."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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