Fans View on Bath Rugby Inside Out - Stephen Donald
By Steve Trenchard
April 23 2012
Stephen Donald has been a huge topic of discussion throughout the season for Bath fans but recently there has been speculation he would be leaving Bath rugby after just one season with the club. However it was announced this week by Bath that Donald would be staying with the club and that he has had frank discussions with them about his performances on the field.
Much was expected from Donald when he came to the rec, after just winning the world cup for New Zealand with a penalty kick, but in most peoples eyes he just hasn’t delivered whilst at Bath.
However the rumors that he would be leaving after just one season just seemed ludicrous to me! Although Donald hasn’t been in the best of forms I still think he is a valuable player who will come good eventually.
His first home game for Bath came in the form of a tough Heineken cup pool game against Montpellier. Bath narrowly won the game 16 – 13 but the main story was the performance of Donald who earned himself a deserved man of the match performance. Donald orchestrated play superbly with the highlights being a long looping pass which sent Olly Woodburn into the corner to an interception which set up Baths second try in the form of David Flatman.
I agree with your comments. I think Donald is the real deal and when he has played well, Bath have played well. He's big and physical, he passes extremely well, creating spaces for players in much the same way that Butch did, and his kicking from hand is very good, even if his kicking style always seems a little odd. From where I'm sitting I think he just needs to sort out his fitness and most importantly, get his head straight about being here and wanting to play for Bath. If he can do that and stay clear of injury I think we could be in for a treat.
Heathcote shows great promise, but we're not going to really go places in the Premiership with Heathcote at 10, not yet anyway.
The trouble with commenting on this is it depends on the readers expectations. I mean if I say 'I think he's a dud' I mean it in the sense we had massive expectations we were looking at signing DC or at least one of the best 10s in the world, we signed the wc winning 10, so many seemed to think he was one of the best 10s in the world, and in that context I think we're going to be disappointed.
However, putting aside those expectations (and rumors of salary, I don;'t think they can be relied upon) I think he'll do ok, set against the list of a dozen or so other competitive 10s in the league I'd say he's in the top third.
I would say that both Butch and TH have impressed outside class, so I don't believe he's the problem.
I think the article sums it up perfectly. He has had little chance to show us what he can do given his injuries and playing with slow or poor quality ball. Our "game plan" also doesn't seem to suit his attacking instincts, which will hopefully be addressed once we get a new coaching team in place.
Poor chap would never live up to expectations, and couple that with joining a Club in virtual meltdown (again) coaching wise, having to adjust to non-work life in the UK which is very different from the outdoor sportsmad life in NZ, a bally miserable cold wet winter etc.....
No wonder the poor chap wasn't at his brilliant best. IMHO, the content of the top two inches of height count for everything in a professional sportsman.
Claasy has gone from hero to zero in a matter of 12 months. I agree there's not enough pressure on him, but think it'd be a mistake to bin him. He needs to accept Butch has gone, and to stop trying to carry the team single handedly.
I'd be inclined to let MMM go and bring in Simpson, if Wasps'd release him. Then I think Claasy would go one of two ways- he'd either sulk and leave, or step up and play.
Claassens' form has gone backwards under McGeechan. McGeechan has tried to make him a more 'complete' 9. The only thing it has done is detract Claassens from his natural game. Claassens does have problems with trusting his 10 but the main problem lies with the way he's been handled by McGeechan. Other players to go backwards under McGeechan are Barkley, Banahan and Abendanon to an extent.
Players to go backwards under Haag are Flatman, Wilson and pretty much the whole pack. It's not all the coaches fault, but these players don't go bad overnight...
A very good NZ friend who is a rugby nut (inevitably), recently "earthquaked" out of his home in Christchurch, is into everything AB, is a former player (not quite to AB standard) and whose judgement I trust completely, reckons that Donald is a hell of a good player and that the more he plays, the better he gets.
So I can understand his early lack of form, but when he is on song his distribution is superb, as is his kicking out of hand - both better than Mike Catt at his best - as is his tackling (other than the feeble attempt in the N'hampton game).
I guess when SD signed he never in a million years thought he be anywhere near the ABs RWC squad in any way shape or form so I think his motives for moving to Europe were reasonably genuine.
Brock James would have been an interesting option, but I don't think SIM would possess the wit, or contacts to sign him, and SIM had just shafted over one of his respected countrymen.
Vern Cotter would have put him straight on a few scores I guess.
We have to give SD some time. Those who have watched the S14/15 over the last few seasons will have seen some great performances from him. Like any other player, he has his off days, in in general is a very good acquisition.
As many others have said, let's give him a chance. I think once he finds his voice within the team, he will have more and more of a positive influence over the way in which we play.
Too many eggs were put into the Carter basket. Brock James is more inconsistent than Butch James. I actually would have gone with Jimmy Gopperth, or Peter Grant. By the end of next season though when Donald goes home, Heathcote will be first choice.
marshie10 . By the end of next season though when Donald goes home, Heathcote will be first choice.
Season after next: "My contract is for three years so I am looking forward to next season," Donald told Sky Sports News. "It will be good to get a good pre-season under my belt as it is probably something I need."
Seems fair to me and I support Old lags point. Look back over Donald's playing career and the times he has been consistently good are when he has been settled and secure. A good pre-season should help stabilise the team spirit. A DoR and a settled coaching staff would do a whole lot more.
I really should sort one of those witty signatures
I don't think you are that far from being a good team, The issues you seem to have are consistency as individuals/team & good game plans.
My question to you guys/girls on SD is how long is his current contract & when it ends do you think he will resign,
Therefore do you build your future around a 10 who will be there or one that will be there.
I'd imagine Tom, if he continues to develop as quickly as he has. In my opinion, if he can continue developing his management of the games, he has has the lot. By that stage Ollie Devoto might be at the level Tom is now, so we would be rather well placed. It might be worth bringing in a Jimmy Gopperth type player, but I think Heathcote should by that stage be first choice. If Donald wasn't "the big name player" that he is, Heathcote would probably be first choice now!
Indeed,Ollie played England under 19 against France recently,he is also a outstanding talent,I believe he went to your old School,Have the still got that old White pavilion.Done a bit of coaching up there awhile back.
Bod, that's exactly what I was thinking recently. I think Mercer and Heathcote would benefit enormously from a season in S15.
Stuart, yes the same Gloucester that finished below us but, like us, have lost their coaching set up. Also the same Gloucester that have played some outstanding rugby this season, the same Gloucester that have beaten us twice this season, and last.
Well Marshie, all the NZ S15 franchises bar Otago are up for sale, so maybe BC2 might wish to evaluate some involvement/tie up - fancy having Smith or Blackadder as Coaching Consultant to develop Bath's coaches? (Bath Crusaders has a ring to it!) World Branding anyone?
Yep, Otago Union has been saved , Local donation and charity fund raising (many Highlander players involved), and a local council have written off some council tax issues (NZRU have added another loan as well) However, don't confuse the Regional Unions with the S15 franchise which is controlled by NZRU.
Stu - there seems to be a few French T14 clubs sniffing around in SA - they have a lot more money to spend and I believe Toulouse or Toulon have some kind of academy/rugby charity already established there somewhere.
TV money will change the Clubs attitudes as the club game develops further worldwide I guess.
National legislation obstacles?
Probably the referendum to leave the EU in a year or two will help! I think the UK govt will be interested to make friends again, especially given the sizeable Oil reserves discovered off the W.Coast of S.Island over the last 3 years.
Just a hunch!
I also thought that the worldwide employees of Britsh companies were given favourable rights to relocate if they possessed specialist skill.
Can you prevent a US rock band performing at Twickenham? At the final analysis this is a similar money generating entertainment business - if there is enough demand then a solution will be found I'm sure!
I wouldn't get too excite by the oil, the most excitable guesses are at most 20 billion barrels, or the amount the Arabs produce in three years. That will give new Zealand enough to meet its own needs, they are not about to become a world power.
They found 60 billion barrels in the falklands in case you need something to compare.
I'd be surprised if we leave the eu, even the current gov isn't that stupid.
I don't believe the rock band is a reasonable analogy. The permit I require to visit other countries to give presentations is not the same that I would require to actually work there long term.
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