New Zealand v Barbarians, Twickenham, December 5
Donald keen to prove himself
December 4, 2009
All Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald is hoping to impress at No.10 against the Barbarians © Getty Images
After an up and down season, New Zealand's Stephen Donald is hoping to end the year on a high by turning in a commanding display in his preferred position of fly-half in Saturday's clash with the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Donald played a starring role in the Chiefs' run to the Super 14 final, leaving him in pole position to fill the void left by the injured Dan Carter during the early rounds of the All Blacks' Tri-Nations campaign.
However, while Donald started the Kiwis' opening three fixtures, he failed to shine and saw little game time for the rest of the season. Indeed, he managed just 26 minutes of action during the All Blacks' end-of-season tour and was told to focus on playing at inside centre rather than fly-half.
Donald, though, is remaining upbeat and is confident that he will yet prove himself as a top-class fly-half.
"I still see myself as a 10, that's where I am this week and I presume that's where I'll be starting off for the Chiefs," he said. "The fact I've been in the (All Blacks) 22 every week, it's kept helping me out and the confidence is pretty good."
Indeed, Donald insists that he has been unaffected by the flak he has taken throughout the year.
"I've loved every minute of it. People might laugh at that and it hasn't been an easy road at times but I wouldn't change it for the world. I've had my ups and downs but I've experienced the week in, week out pressure on international footy," he said.
"There's been some tough times but I think of Eden Park (the 22-16 victory over Australia in July) and what it did for my confidence about playing at that level. Even South Africa, we didn't get the results but I felt like I was growing there too. Then I started a Tri-Nations game at No.12 so she's been an interesting old one.
"So, you've just got to keep boxing on and have faith in yourself. There's enough going on that you could lose faith if you got caught up in it all. You've just got to back yourself that you're there for a reason and you're a good footballer. That's how you get through it."