Coach: NZ's 'been pretty tough' on Stephen Donald

Stephen Donald joined the All Black Rugby World Cup squad yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Stephen Donald joined the All Black Rugby World Cup squad yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Stephen Donald's Super 15 coach believes the country has been tough on the recalled All Black and says his experience will hold him in good stead if he needs to go onto the park at the Rugby World Cup.

Donald was called into the All Blacks' squad yesterday after back-up first five-eighth Colin Slade was ruled out of the tournament due to a groin injury.

With the tournament ending injuries to Dan Carter and Slade, it appears Donald has been called in as the last cab off the number 10 rank.

Fellow World Cup late arrival Aaron Cruden is set to start in Sunday's semifinal against Australia with Donald a possible option for a bench spot.

Chiefs coach Ian Foster expects the 22-test veteran to handle the pressure well.

"He's a professional athlete, he's had some ups and downs the last 12 months this country's been pretty tough on him and a lot of the reasons would be probably more emotional than factual I would think... they've been reasonably unfair on him," he told RadioSport.

"And when they named the squad I think Slade, Cruden and Donald would have all been pretty even it would have been a hard call for the selectors I would imagine. They went with Slade then Cruden and now they've got Donald..."

"He's a quality person and a good rugby player with his own strengths and weaknesses and if he puts on a black jersey he'll give it everything he's got.

Foster says it's up to the All Blacks coaches to ensure Donald is ready.

- HERALD ONLINE

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