UNLIKELY hero Stephen Donald has started taking stock of his World Cup final-winning exploits, and admitted: “It is an unreal experience.”
Two weeks ago, Donald was enjoying a holiday fishing for whitebait on the Waikato River ahead of linking up with Aviva Premiership club Bath on a two-and-a-half year deal after the tournament.
But when New Zealand’s catalogue of injuries to their World Cup fly-halves continued, he found himself summoned by coach Graham Henry. Dan Carter had already been ruled out of the World Cup, then Donald replaced Colin Slade before appearing off the bench at Eden Park as substitute for another injured number 10, Aaron Cruden.
And it was 27-year-old Donald who came up trumps for the All Blacks when it mattered, kicking a 45th-minute penalty that edged New Zealand home 8-7 against France yesterday and secured them a first world title since 1987.
“It is an unreal experience to pretty much come from nowhere and find yourself playing in a World Cup final,” he said.
“It just feels funny. It hasn’t sunk in yet, and it’s the same for the rest of the guys.”