Guildford set to be reinstated to Crusaders
Troubled former All Black Zac Guildford looks set to be handed another lifeline from New Zealand rugby bosses following a second serious alcohol-fuelled incident.
It is understood that when the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) announce their decision in Wellington this morning on the misconduct hearing held over the past two days in Auckland, Guildford will be allowed to keep his NZRU contract and resume playing for the Crusaders.
That comes on the back of a previous one-month suspension which was handed down by the NZRU in late 2011 after a drunken rampage in Rarotonga in which he allegedly assaulted two patrons at a local bar.
The suspension came with the proviso that there were to be no more chances and that Guildford was to clean his act up, which he answered with a self-imposed alcohol ban for one year.
In November last year he was spotted drinking at the Ellerslie races, but quickly countered the accusations he was back on the grog by explaining he felt comfortable enjoying a quiet beer when surrounded by friends.
But Guildford found himself in hot water at the beginning of this year after he allegedly punched a Christchurch partygoer following a heavy drinking session at a Christchurch address.
He quickly withdrew himself from the Crusaders squad and signed up for a rehabilitation course in Hawke's Bay that was reported to have cost almost $23,000.
Guildford completed the month-long course and expressed a desire to get back out on the rugby field, but was held back by the red tape around his latest indiscretion.
He was granted permission to turn out for his Hawke's Bay club Napier Tech last weekend.
The misconduct hearing took place on Tuesday, but rolled over into yesterday. Last night rugby's governing body remained mute on the outcome.
However The Press understands the hearings were positive for Guildford and that he could be back in the Crusaders camp by the end of this week.
His inclusion in the squad won't be enough to see him automatically elevated into the starting lineup. He wasn't included in the 22-man squad named by Todd Blackadder for the clash with the Bulls at AMI Stadium on Saturday night.
After dropping their first two matches of the year, the pressure is on the Crusaders and a win this weekend will go a long way to alleviating their supporters' fears.
Blackadder has made just one change to the starting XV which narrowly lost to the Hurricanes last week. Tom Taylor's medial ligament strain has ruled him out so rookie first-five Tyler Bleyendaal has been called onto the bench.
Meanwhile, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has also made one change, including utility back Jurgen Visser on the wing to replace the injured Lionel Mapoe.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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