Donald back to help make Chiefs great again

By James Perry

Rugby World Cup winner Stephen Donald has been recalled to the Chiefs to replace an injured Tiaan Falcon.

Falcon injured his Achilles tendon during the pre-season and coach Colin Cooper is pleased to have Donald back in the fold. 

"We had a good look around, he was keen" he says, "We felt with Tiaan, going down- one of our younger tens- that we need a more experienced ten."

Stephen Donald is Beaver in Chief again in 2019. Photo/file

Donald himself is happy to be back in the team he led to a win over Wales in 2016. 

“I am stoked to be able to come back and play for the Chiefs this season," he says, "There is a great group of lads to work alongside and I hope I can play my part in supporting the team, both on and off the field.”

The Chiefs take on the Highlanders in Hamilton on Friday night in the super rugby opener.

A 21-19 win against the Reds in Brisbane and a 43-10 loss to the Blues in Kaikohe is how Cooper's side finished off their pre-season matches.

Now their attention turns to the season proper and the return of their All Blacks, who sat out the pre-season hit-outs. 

"[Pre-season] has done it's job," says Cooper, "Obviously it's given other guys an opportunity to put their hands up for this week's game, and again, we're managing with the All Blacks who's in, who's out."

Captain Sam Cane, and prop Kane Hames are two All Blacks who won't feature in this weeks clash in Hamilton due to injury, but Cooper is remaining coy about how his team will run out on to the field. 

"You'll have to wait till Wednesday," he told media today.

Injuries played a big role in the Chiefs 2018 season.  At one stage all six of their contracted props were sidelined and Cooper says they have changed their approach to pre-season training as a result. 

"We changed how we ran December because of our injuries.  We bought a lot more contact in earlier." 

Given his heroic Rugby World Cup efforts in 2011, Chiefs fans will be hoping Donald can come from nowhere and help guide his team to another super rugby title if he is called upon to take the field.

The Chiefs host the Highlanders at 7.35pm on Friday night at FMG Stadium Waikato.