Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Donald never gave up dream

Stephen Donald

New Bath signing Stephen Donald is ready to do a job for New Zealand after answering an injury SOS sent out by the World Cup favourites.

Donald has replaced an injured Colin Slade in the All Blacks squad, joining fellow call-up Aaron Cruden, who took over from a stricken Dan Carter. Cruden or versatile half-back Piri Weepu are expected to wear the number 10 shirt against semi-final opponents Australia next Sunday, but Donald could also feature in the selection mix.

"I was fairly surprised," said Donald, who will link up with Bath following the World Cup after agreeing terms earlier this year. "Obviously, I never gave up the dream, but I was fairly surprised considering what has happened."

He added: "I have had a good month off, and like everyone else I have enjoyed watching the World Cup. Obviously I watched it thinking 'I would love to be a part of it,' and now that opportunity potentially is here."

Donald was fishing for whitebait on the Waikato River in New Zealand's North Island when he was alerted to his World Cup summons.

"I think Ted (All Blacks coach Graham Henry) had missed me a couple of times, and then I finally got a call from 'Milsy' (Mils Muliaina) and he said 'start answering your phone, you idiot,' so that was sort of the message I needed.

"I was keeping fit and just waiting. My chance has come now, so that is all I am worried about.

"I've had a good break, a good month away, and I have just been enjoying watching the World Cup. Now, I've been given a crack and an opportunity here, which I am extremely excited about being a part of.

"Fitness-wise, I am pretty confident, very confident."

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