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.
That performance alone should merit why Donald was signed by Bath but since that game Donald has not been able to match that performance since and that’s resulted in a football-esc rumor about a player with a three year contact leaving after just only one season.
Firstly Stephen Donald hasn’t had the advantage of playing alongside an in form Olly Barkley however in past seasons the backline needed either an in form Butch or Barkley and free flowing attacking rugby would be seen. However this season Donald has been in a backline that has constantly shown a lack of ambition and cutting edge.
Donald has also not had enough time to gel with the team and so he still is not on the same wave length as a lot of the other players and that is something which is vital if you are a fly half. Classens has also not helped his cause with the frequent supply of slow ball being offloaded to a back peddling Donald and add in the fact he still has to try and dictate play behind a scrum that’s going backwards and a lineout which is misfiring.
Although Donald is a world cup winner he’s not a miracle worker and the backline at bath was already faltering before he arrived from New Zealand.
He also had an injury that put him out for a month and was thrown straight back into the starting line up after recovering a few weeks ago at the debarcle that was Northampton. The coaching style this season has been another thing that has held Donald back in his search for form with the coaches opting for Saracens style rugby instead of a style that Steve Meehan had encouraged the team to play and a style Donald was familiar with when playing for Waikato and scoring a remarkable 796 points in 85 appearances.
Stephen Donald is a world class player and all he needs is to recapture his form during pre season. Next season I’m sure the rec will be watching the Stephen Donald that played against Montpellier and the Stephen Donald that played against Northampton will be nowhere to be seen. Like many bath fans this will be a season (well for bath anyway) he will want to forget but he has shown promise and I believe Donald can be as big a hit as Butch James was at the rec.
Article written by Steve Trenchard
Follow him on twitter by clicking here @trenchianiooo
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