Zac Guildford keen to stay at the Crusaders

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2013
Zac Guildford
Getty Images
STAYING PUT: Zac Guildford hopes to stay at the Crusaders.

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Zac Guildford wants to repay the Crusaders for supporting him during a troubled year by renewing his contract.

Guildford's deal with the Crusaders and the New Zealand Rugby Union expires after the Super Rugby season but he is eager to return for his fifth season with the franchise.

He also confirmed he wants to add to his 10 test caps by playing for Hawke's Bay and prove to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen he can still be of value on the international stage.

"I am going to stay [in New Zealand]. It will be with Hawke's Bay and the Crusaders - I just need to sign that stuff off," Guildford said.

"It's a big thing that I have got off my chest now. Probably if I did go I was going for the wrong reasons."

If the 24-year-old remains true to his pledge to abstain from alcohol - such a contract clause is likely to be demanded by the NZRU and Crusaders - he has plenty to offer the game here.

Earlier, when he hinted he was looking to play overseas, Hansen contacted him and encouraged him to stay.

Guildford's close friend Israel Dagg is already contracted to the Crusaders for another season.

The exodus of wings to overseas clubs has given Guildford, who last played for the All Blacks when they met Ireland in Christchurch last year, a better chance of playing at the top level again.

Hosea Gear, Rene Ranger and Richard Kahui are leaving, while Cory Jane is still recovering from a knee injury.

Coach Todd Blackadder, who has stuck by Guildford following a series of alcohol-related incidents, will be eager for the wing to repay that faith against the Chiefs on Friday night as the Crusaders push for a home qualifying finals match.

The wing had one of his brighter games during last Saturday night's 40-12 win over the Highlanders and was unlucky not to score following his charge-down of Ma'a Nonu's clearing kick.

"In the second half where I felt I had some energy and that's my whole game," Guildford said.

"The more I can get my hands on the ball, the more confidence I can get."

Because of the earthquakes and vagaries of the draw the Crusaders haven't played the Chiefs in Christchurch since the opening round of 2009 - Blackadder's first in charge as coach.

The Chiefs beat the Crusaders 28-19 in Hamilton on May 24 and require one additional competition point to top the New Zealand conference.

Reversing that result will require the Crusaders to give them some of their own medicine.

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"They look to be aggressive at the breakdown and disrupt us," Guildford said. "What Crusaders teams have done over the years is what they are doing now.

"We can't let the Chiefs bully us as they have in the last few games. We need to bully them."

Fairfax NZ

- Fairfax Media

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