Two weeks ago, Donald was enjoying a holiday fishing for whitebait on the Waikato River ahead of linking up with Aviva Premiership club Bath on a two-and-a-half year deal after the tournament.
But when New Zealand's catalogue of injuries to their World Cup fly-halves continued, he found himself summoned by coach Graham Henry.
Dan Carter had already been ruled out of the World Cup, then Donald replaced Colin Slade before appearing off the bench at Eden Park as substitute for another injured number 10, Aaron Cruden.
And it was 27-year-old Donald who came up trumps for the All Blacks when it mattered, kicking a 45th-minute penalty that edged New Zealand home 8-7 against France and secured them a first world title since 1987.
"It is an unreal experience to pretty much come from nowhere and find yourself playing in a World Cup final," he said.
"It just feels funny. It hasn't sunk in yet, and it's the same for the rest of the guys. They were just sitting around the changing room, now moving much and not saying much.
"You wouldn't exactly describe my preparation as ideal, but mentally I was fine. I am glad I only had 50 minutes because my fitness wasn't what it might be.
"The coaches said to me to be ready because it could come down to me having to kick the winning goal, and that is exactly how it panned out."
Donald has had his fair share of critics during a Test career that has blown hot and cold, but there was no questioning his contribution to a team riddled by nerves and rattled by a wonderfully fired-up French team.
"People have questioned me as an All Black, so I am pretty proud of this achievement," he added.
"You don't always agree with what is said, but I am proud that I was able to front-up. I was excited to go out there and show I am a genuine All Black, that I deserved to wear the jersey, even if this may be the last time I get that chance."
Reflecting on the circumstances surrounding his World Cup call-up, Donald said: "I was out with a mate having a few beers and white-baiting. We'd had a good day that day, hauling in around 11 kilos, but it got a lot better!
"I didn't get any of Ted's (All Blacks coach Graham Henry's) calls because my phone was switched off, and it was only when I spoke to someone else later I found out they had been trying to contact me. Luckily, I had Ted's number in my phone.
"You always dream about things like playing in World Cups, but as number four in line you start to give that up a bit. But when I got the call I felt like the dream just got that much closer to reality again.
"At half-time we agreed I would take over the kicking if we got any more shots at goal (scrum-half Piri Weepu had missed three), but I never lined that one up thinking 'this is to win the World Cup'.
"I am just so proud we found a way to win when they (France) had a truck-load of possession in the second-half. The boys' defence was something special, and I am proud to be part of that."
The All Blacks will now embark on a three-day victory tour, starting in Auckland tomorrow, then Christchurch on Tuesday and Wellington on Wednesday.
"I can see a few big nights coming up, maybe even a big week, and I am sure the whole country is going to have a pretty big hangover," he added.
"Just being able to say we are world champions is almost unbelievable."
Donald, meanwhile, looks likely to make his Bath debut next month, either in the Heineken Cup or Premiership.
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