WELLINGTON (AFP) – Much-maligned All Black Stephen Donald's unlikely role in New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup final win over France will be immortalised in a movie, reports said on Friday.
Donald was New Zealand's fourth-choice fly-half in the tournament but scored a crucial penalty during the decider in Auckland to secure a nail-biting 8-7 win and end 24 years of frustration for the host nation.
State funding body New Zealand on Air have allocated NZ$2.7 million ($2.1 million) for a film about Donald's exploits called "The Kick", Fairfax Media reported.
Scriptwriter Tom Scott said it was a tale of redemption for Donald, who lost his spot and was vilified by the New Zealand public after being blamed for a loss to bitter rivals Australia 12 months before the World Cup.
"The way he was treated was appalling, and he handled it so well, without bitterness, without rancour," Scott told Fairfax.
"Here was a guy who was rejected by the fans, rejected by his own province even.
"He couldn't bear to watch the All Blacks play in the (World Cup) tournament -- he was lying on the couch, drinking beer and eating chips."
Donald was out fishing when he received a call from the-then All Blacks coach Graham Henry saying he was needed in the squad after injuries to Dan Carter and Colin Slade.
He was on the bench for the final when New Zealand's injury curse struck again and third-string kicker Aaron Cruden limped off.
Wearing one of Cruden's spare shirts because he was called up too late to have his own, Donald lined up a penalty goal about six minutes after half time.
His kick appeared to be drifting wide but curved back just enough to scrape within the uprights, making it 8-0 to the All Blacks and putting the game beyond a converted try.
France narrowed the gap to one point, launching an all-out attack in the latter stages of the game, but New Zealand held on and Donald became a cult hero.
It was his last appearance for New Zealand and he played for English club Bath after the World Cup, before signing for Japan's Mitsubishi Dynaboars earlier this year.