Don­ald set for Fri­day

Franklin County News - - SPORT -

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.’’

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