Lions tour: Warren Gatland puts Lions on notice for Stephen Donald's show-and-go
Warren Gatland knows all too well just how much Stephen Donald loves his show-and-go.
Tuesday night in Hamilton presents another chance for another chapter in the book of "Beaver" Donald. The match against the Lions probably won't require another movie, but after Donald's exploits in leading the Chiefs to an astonishing 40-7 mid-week win over Wales last year, his status certainly continues to grow.
Gatland has put the Lions on notice after Donald schooled his second-string Welsh side last year by setting up two tires and breaking the line several times with his infamous show-and-go.
"The Beaver," Gatland said. "I was lucky enough to coach Stephen for a few years. There was a period of time where New Zealanders either loved or hated him but he's a fantastic individual, great person, and brilliant team man and it's nice to see him play.
"Unfortunately 12 months ago I said whatever you do don't take a dummy from Stephen Donald and I think the first time he touched the ball he threw a dummy and the Chiefs scored. That will be the message again for Tuesday night because he loves to throw a dummy and run himself. I think Andy Farrell will be disappointed, particularly with the way we've been defending, if we do get sucked in by a Stephen Donald dummy."
Gatland and Donald's affiliation goes back to when the pair joining forces with Waikato from 2005 to '07.
"He's an icon around here. I heard over the weekend he recently got engaged. I would like to congratulate him. I don't think it was a traditional proposal. I think he was out white baiting and the ring was offered at the back of the ute in typical Stephen Donald fashion.
"I do have my sources of information as well."
You better believe Donald is taking this match seriously. Not long after finishing Sunday's press conference where he was named to captain an inexperienced Chiefs team missing their All Blacks along with Maori players Damian McKenzie and James Lowe, Donald was first man out to limber up at the Chiefs' Ruakura training base.
Some of that may have to do with the fact he is 33-years-old, but these are also just the kind of occasions, when needed most, Donald tends to shine.
After over 100 games for the Chiefs, he needs no more motivation than simply pulling on the jersey.
"The Chiefs mean everything to me so it's a huge honour," Donald said of the captaincy. "I was lucky enough to do it once last year and I'm very excited about doing it again and leading this young bunch of boys on Tuesday."
Donald loves a crack; loves to challenge the line but tried he to suggest he would feed his midfield pairing of the big-hitting Johnny Fa'auli and Tim Nanai-Williams, who turned out for Samoa against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Friday.
"We've got some big ball carriers outside me so I probably won't have a go the whole night. I'll just throw it out to Johnny and Timmy."
When it was suggested to Donald that could be seen as rope-a-dope tactics, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie piped up.
"We did say no show-and-go for the first three plays in the first half ... so don't be surprised if you see it early."
Any socialising with Gatland will be left to post-match.
"I don't tend to drink too much pre-game but maybe after if we get an opportunity it would be good to catch up with Gats," Donald said. "He was obviously a big part of my early days."
By the end of the Welsh match last year Donald was cramping up, hobbling around on one leg, and the Chiefs will be keen to keep him on the park as long as possible on Tuesday with Counties Manukau playmaker Luteru Laulala listed to debut from the bench.
"It's a fairly handy mid-week team they'll put out to be fair. The only thing we can take from the Wales game is the week we've had and the preparation. A few of our louder boys aren't here so some of our other boys have stepped up as they did last year.
"That's been the big thing we learnt from last year, we've all got to take on roles and make the most of that opportunity."
From the whitebait creek to World Cup final, Donald has made a habit of doing exactly that throughout his career.