Crusaders' wing position remains vacant

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2013

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Todd Blackadder is still working with the New Zealand Rugby Union to confirm Zac Guildford's replacement.

Guildford has taken indefinite leave from the Crusaders to undertake an intensive treatment programme to address his personal issues following a recent alcohol-fuelled incident at a party in Christchurch.

Although the Crusaders' opening Super Rugby match against the Blues is not until March 1, Blackadder will be keen to settle on a replacement and wider training group member Kurt Baker, currently on duty with the national sevens team in Wellington, is a logical replacement.

"They [the NZRU] have said we should be able to have a temporary replacement and we are just working through a few solutions there at the moment," Blackadder said.

"We haven't confirmed anything just yet."

A date for Guildford's misconduct hearing has yet to be set.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said that would be dealt with at an "appropriate time".

Blackadder said the door was not closed to Guildford playing Super Rugby this season.

Knowing there was a chance he could rejuvenate his career with the Crusaders could have positive spin-offs for the wing because it would provide an incentive to get his life back on track.

"But if he feels he is not right or the professionals don't think it is the best for him, then it wouldn't be the best thing to do," Blackadder said.

"We are just quietly supporting him and hope he gets well.

"If he gets that professional help he needs and everyone feels they can move forward, we would love to have him."

Meanwhile, Blackadder said he did not have any unrealistic expectations about what his team could achieve in this afternoon's pre-season match against the Hurricanes at Timaru's Alpine Energy Stadium.

With a large number of first-string players being rested - and yesterday's training run at Culverden being the first of the season - Blackadder knows enthusiasm and early-season rust will result in errors.

"It will be a little bit messy but the intent will be there to see where we are at.

"There would be a little bit of anxiety if we were to put it all on the line and tell those young guys we are looking for a faultless performance when we have only had one training run.

"But they only have a small window to stake a claim to get that jersey."

HOW THEY LINE UP

Crusaders: Tom Marshall, James Schrader, Kieran Fonotia, Robbie Fruean, Shayne Anderson, Tyler Bleyendaal, Jeremy Su'a, Jordan Taufua, Shane Christie, George Whitelock (c), Joel Everson, Dominic Bird, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Paea Fa'anunu, Adrian Barone, Mitch Graham, Ben Funnell, Jimmy Tupou, Matt Simons, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, Andy Ellis, Tyrone Elkington, Kolio Hifo, Stephen Burt.

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Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Richard Buckman, Tim Bateman, Rey LeeLo, Matt Proctor, James Marshall, Chris Smylie, Mike Coman, Karl Lowe, Callum Gibbins, Jason Eaton, Blade Thomson, Ben May, Ash Dixon, Reg Goodes. Reserves: Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush, Eric Sione, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, TJ Perenara, Papa Wharewera, Ope Peleseuma, Ambrose Curtis, Parataiso Silafai-Lea'ana. Kickoff: 3pm.

- The Press

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