Rugby Championship

Ex-All Black sees silver lining on SA tour: 'Parts of the NZ game will always trouble Springboks'

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The All Blacks and under-fire coach Ian Foster touched down in South Africa last weekend ahead of a highly anticipated double-header to start the 2022 Rugby Championship.

While the New Zealand press has largely been all doom and gloom, Donald sees a silver lining in the current quagmire.

"I think it's the best place to be in," Donald, who was famously called off his fishing holiday to help the All Blacks win the 2011 World Cup final, told Stuff.

"Things are down in the dumps at the moment, but you've still got guys there who have beaten South Africa in South Africa. I don't think they'll be daunted by it but will know it's going to be as tough as it gets.

"It should be exciting for them. As a backs-to-the-wall scenario, you don't get any bigger, but it's bloody doable. There are parts of the New Zealand game that will always trouble the Springboks, and if they don't get their kicking game perfect, and it doesn't flow on to their defence being able to set, all of a sudden, a big part of their game is gone."

In the absence of the mercurial Dan Carter, Donald started at flyhalf for New Zealand's two-Test tour of South Africa in 2009. John Smit's world champion, Lions-slaying Springboks were perhaps the best Bok team of all-time... and they showed it, defeating New Zealand on back-to-back weekends.

Donald described successfully touring South Africa as one of the most difficult things to do in world rugby.

"Hands down, it's the toughest assignment in rugby," continued the 25 Test veteran.

"From the moment you hope all your luggage shows up at Jo'burg airport, the world is against you. They're a wonderful people outside of the bright lights, a lot have become great mates, but you put a Springbok jersey on them, they're already about 6'8, and they become 7'8.

"It was pretty cool, back to back against the world's best team in 2009. It's daunting, but you'd give your right arm to be part of it again."

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