Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stephen Donald gets some special praise

All Blacks first five-eighth Stephen Donald kicked the crucial penalty in the 8-7 win over France at Eden Park, and the man himself said he was pleased that he was able to play a significant part.

Donald has had his doubters over the years, but he felt his performance would go along way to proving he had a fair amount to offer.

“There are people out there who undermined my status as an All Black,” he said.

“To get the chance to prove that I am an All Black is good. I think a World Cup final is a pretty good place to start.”

"I'm just fortunate to get the opportunity to come into such a great team.

"You always dream about it and I never gave up on that dream. When I got called into the squad the dream got closer to being a reality and now I'm here."

Donald joked that had he had to play an extra minute, it might have been too much, while admitting at the time he didn’t think how important the kick would be.

“My preparation hasn't been ideal,” he said.

“When you go whitebaiting you usually take a couple of beers with you. So my fitness was probably not what it could have been. Fortunately I only had to hold out for 50 minutes.

Captain Richie McCaw said a tired Donald had admitted this to him afterwards.

“I had a thought when he came in that he would kick the goal that made the difference,” McCaw said.

“He did that and he got through 50 minutes though he told me later he probably couldn't have gone 51 minutes.”

Coach Graham Henry lauded Donald’s qualities as a team man, saying that he had proved some people wrong and had proved his character.

“He a tremendous team person, he's very popular in this group and he's very professional,” Henry said.

“I had a long talk to him after the game and he had a huge smile on his face to be part of this because you people have given him a bit of stick at times and perhaps he has deserved it occasionally.

"But he's got great character and he's a real team person. It's just great that he could come through and kick that goal and he played some good footy in that second half as well.”

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