STEPHEN DONALD, AKA BEAVER: ALL BLACK, RUGBY WORLD CUP TOUR HOST AND HOLDEN NZ AMBASSADOR
You drive a Colorado ute? It’s a 2015 Z71, I think you call it blood orange. I came on board this year as a Holden NZ ambassador. I just got the auto, I did have the manual. I like the Colorado’s towing power, it’s 3.5 tonnes, which is great for towing a boat and going fishing. And also the 4WD aspect, being able to change that on a dial next to the handbrake is nice compared to other 4WDs where you have to change the shift or get out and do something to the wheels.
And on that auspicious day in 2011 when “Beaver” kicked the winning penalty in the Rugby World Cup Final ... what were you driving then? We had Ford Rangers when I was in the All Blacks but I didn’t have a vehicle of my own. I think I was borrowing my good friend Richard Kahui’s sponsored car at the time.
Dream car? I think I am driving it.
Who taught you to drive? Mum and Dad in Waiuku. I imagine it would have been a terribly expensive experience for them; when you are 15 or 16 you think you know everything. I am glad I didn’t have to learn to drive in Auckland. Waiuku is an easier place to learn to drive; you go on the country roads pretty quickly. No one is around and it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake there. It still terrifies me now driving in Auckland, it is a confusing beast.
What irritates you most about other drivers? I’m relaxed on the road, no point getting stressed about it. Hamilton is easy for driving, we probably moan if we hit peak-hour traffic and it adds five minutes.
Most memorable road trip? Always the New Year road trips in our late teens. One year we started at Waiuku and had a night in Whangamata, a night in Taupo and then crossed to Napier, back to the Mount and Whangamata. It was a hell of a shaky loop to get there. That was in a black van. The boys tech-screwed in about three more seats; we had about 12 of us in there. We were probably lucky to get it back alive.
You have lived overseas. How does driving in Japan and England compare to New Zealand? I lived in Bath and it had narrow country lanes, which was stressful when you knew someone was coming the other way. Japan had narrow roads but obviously sharing the roads with ridiculous numbers is an experience. You get stuck in Tokyo and you’re not sure where to go. It can be a hell of a mission and you end up driving in circles for hours. Driving in New Zealand is easier but drivers overseas are more courteous.
You are taking a tour to the Rugby World Cup. My trip is with All Black Tours and we are going for the semifinals week, October 21. We have got a planeload, about 300 or 400. There’s a tour going the week before with Graham Henry. We all meet at the same hotel when we get to London. It should be a good trip and, All Backs going well, a great time to be in London.
Any tips for those on the tour? Getting over jet lag — I think it is crucial to stay up as late as you can.
Any tips for the tour bus driver? Good luck. I would hate to be driving in London. As long as he gets there in time that is what counts.
Who are you backing for the Cup? There are probably six or seven who think they could win and that hasn’t always been the case with the World Cup. You would think we would be favourites.