Donald set for Friday
Stephen Donald is a starter for Counties Manukau against Waikato in Hamilton on Friday night.
There were some doubts that the 33-year-old would be available for round two of the Mitre 10 Cup after he limped off late in the second half against Auckland at ECOLight Stadium last Saturday.
But that appears to have been a precautionary measure with Steelers coach Darryl Suasua confirming that his second five eighth is fighting fit and raring to go against his former team mates.
‘‘Stephen is in good nick and raring to go again. It will be great having him on the field. ‘‘His enthusiasm around the team is infectious. ‘‘He brings many years of experience at the very top of the game and the professionalism is a great example to the boys.’’
Donald has good reason to want to play this match. He left Counties Manukau as a 21-year-old to join Waikato.
He played 60 games for them in the nine years he was a Mooloo.
Donald was a calming influence in the Steelers’ helter-skelter match against Auckland in their season opener at Pukekohe last Saturday.
And Suasua is certain to call on that experience again with the Mooloos enjoying the home advantage of FMG Stadium.
Auckland had the Steelers rattled on occasions but it was the steely defence of the home side that got them over the line.
Suasua, while thrilled with a first up 16-14 win, knows that Auckland exposed frailties that Waikato will want to exploit.
‘‘There is still a lot of work to be done. The boys showed good courage and were full of intent but we need to be a lot more accurate.
‘‘Our defence was strong and brave against a more fancied team.
‘‘The boys showed good cohesion in this part of the game. But Auckland exposed our lack of detail in certain areas.’’