Stephen Donald: Ulster set to sign New Zealand fly-half until end of season

Former All Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald
Former All-Black fly-half Stephen Donald is understood to be on his way to Ulster

World Cup-winning New Zealand fly-half Stephen Donald is set to sign for Ulster until the end of the season.

Ulster are expected to confirm the capture of the 34-year-old, who kicked the winning points in the 2011 World Cup, within the next week.

The province have been on the lookout for a number 10 to replace Australian Christian Lealiifano, who will return to the Brumbies later this month.

Lealiifano, 30, joined Ulster on a short-term contract in August.

He will return to Australia after the conclusion of the Champions Cup pool games against La Rochelle this Saturday and Wasps on 21 January.

Operations director Bryn Cunningham has been leading the search for a replacement for Lealiifano and indicated on Saturday that an announcement was imminent.

Lealiifano will rejoin the Brumbies for the start of the Super Rugby season.
Christian Lealiifano will rejoin the Brumbies for the start of the Super Rugby season

Contract negotiations are thought to be at an advanced stage and barring any late glitches, Donald is expected to sign until the end of the current season.

Donald was on a fishing holiday in 2011 when he was called into the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad and injuries to Dan Carter and Colin Slade saw him come off the bench in the final against France to kick the decisive penalty.

He has most recently been playing in Japan and it is believed he will arrive in Belfast shortly after his club, the Tokyo-based Toshiba Brave Lupus, finish their league campaign this weekend.

Lealiifano has been an influential figure for Ulster this season, making 15 appearances and scoring 47 points despite arriving just a week before the start of the season.

Another Ulster fly-half, Johnny McPhillips, has been added to the official squad for the remaining Champions Cup pool fixtures.