Super Rugby 2019: All Blacks cult favourite Stephen Donald returns to Chiefs

Rugby World Cup hero Stephen Donald is back for one last hurrah at the Chiefs.

Just like 2011, Donald has answered a distress call from the Super Rugby franchise, which has lost young first-five Tiaan Falcon to season-ending injury.

The former All Black has signed on as injury cover, marking a return to the competition for the first time since 2016.

On Monday, coach Colin Cooper told media that 'Beaver' didn't take much convincing.

"We had a good look around and he was pretty keen," Cooper quirked. "He was pretty keen last year too.

"We felt with Tiaan injured, we needed a more experienced 10, so he was keen and we were keen to bring him back.

"He's like another coach. We will be managing his workload, but with his knowledge, his mana that he has within the group and the passion that he has for the Chiefs, it was a no-brainer to bring him in."

Teammate Brad Webber is alo delighted his old mate has returned to the fold. The halfback joked that he was no longer the Chiefs elder statesman.

"I'm stoked he's back," said Webber. "It means I'm not the oldest in the backline, which is great.

"His experience, you just can't put a price on it. The stuff he brings, the voice on the field is obviously really loud and helps a halfback like me.

"But certainly, for the whole group off the field, in terms of analysis and coming up with ideas to attack that week, you can't pay for, so bloody stoked he's back."

Donald has just finished a playing stint in Japan, but hasn't played in New Zealand since the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup, when he made nine appearances for Counties-Manukau.

With All Blacks utility Damian McKenzie on limited duties for the first few rounds, Donald may find himself adding to his 104 Super Rugby caps.

McKenzie's brother, Marty, has joined Falcon in the medical ward, leaving the Chiefs with only rookie playmaker Jack Debreczeni available to start the opening game against the Highlanders.

Donald, 35, isn't looking too far ahead though. He's just enjoying being back where he belongs.

The Chiefs and Highlanders open the season on Friday night in Hamilton.


Join us for live updates of the Chiefs vs Highlanders from 7:30pm Friday.

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