All Black chances hold key to Guildford staying

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:01 19/04/2013
Zac Guildford
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ZAC ATTACK: Zac Guildford in action for the Crusaders against the Kings.

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Zac Guildford's form over the next few months could determine whether he re-signs with the New Zealand Rugby Union and sticks with the Crusaders.

The 24-year-old wing will be a free agent at the conclusion of this year's Super Rugby competition and could be tempted to play offshore.

Whether he re-commits to the NZRU may depend on whether Guildford believes he can represent the All Blacks again.

Although Cory Jane is injured he faces staunch competition from incumbent All Blacks Julian Savea and Hosea Gear and a number of other promising players including the Blues' Frank Halai.

Guildford's quiet form for the Crusaders - he has yet to score a try in his four appearances - has not beefed-up his argument that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen must consider him for the June tests against France.

Not playing on the international stage will have a severe impact on Guildford's income and could result in him looking offshore.

Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach would not comment yesterday but the franchise will be disappointed if they lose the player they supported after he took voluntary leave earlier this season to address his alcohol issues.

Having All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg, a close friend of Guildford's, on their books may also be another drawcard.

Hawke's Bay coach Craig Philpott said he wants to re-sign Guildford for the NPC.

"We are keen to have him back and we have indicated to his agent that if he is keen to stay in New Zealand we are keen to have him back," Philpott said.

Negotiations for provincial contracts can begin at any time but are worthless if a deal with the NZRU has not been confirmed.

"We can negotiate with a player at any time but obviously it tends to be cart before the horse stuff," Philpott added.

"So he will work out what he will do with the NZRU first and then work out who he will play ITM Cup for, go overseas or just have a break."

Before he was involved in a fracas at a Christchurch party in January, which resulted in him entering a rehabilitation clinic, it is understood Guildford was already assessing his options overseas.

He may want to reciprocate the loyalty shown to him by the NZRU and the Crusaders. 

Guildford may also be reluctant to part from his girlfriend, top jockey Sam Spratt, who is based in the Waikato.

Guildford was not available this week and his agent, Essentially Group's Simon Porter, didn't want to comment.

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