Tuesday 22 May 2012 | Published in Regional
Sidelined All Black Zac Guildford could soon be back in the squad following his suspension late last year over a drunken few days in Rarotonga.
Guildford has joined a gathering of All Blacks players in Auckland over the weekend, signalling that he may soon expect to re-join the team in a playing capacity.
The team is back on the training field under new coach Steve Hansen, who is hinting at a few changes to the team’s line-up under his guidance.
Guildford was part of the 35-man training group and appears to be under consideration to replace winger Richard Kahui on the wing.
New Zealand press is labelling the call-up as a sign that Guildford’s rehabilitation after falling off the rails in Rarotonga last November is almost complete.
The 23-year-old’s fall from grace hit its lowest point while he was in Rarotonga last year, when an island-wide drinking binge saw him harass a Cook Islands female athlete and later, naked and bloody, assault two men at a bar.
He spent the night in police custody and was later smuggled on to an awaiting plane at Rarotonga airport via a catering truck.
His exploits have resurfaced in New Zealand news following the first All Blacks training camp.
3 News described his addition in the camp as something that ”some thought would never happen“ after New Zealand Rugby Union considered revoking his contact following the Rarotonga incident.
”Off the bus but still on the wagon, Zac Guildford is en route to a remarkable All Blacks comeback,“ 3 News reported.
Sky News said that Guildford had performed well enough on his return with the Crusaders in the Super Rugby competition.
They quoted Guildford as saying his family, agent and the All Blacks psychologist were all important in keeping him on the right track following his fall from grace.
”I knew if I worked hard, kept out of trouble and did the right things on the field then eventually it would come, and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity again,“ Guildford said.
The New Zealand Herald said that the call-up was the latest challenge Guildford would face up to, particularly because it was in a role.
”Hard on the heels of his rehabilitation at the Crusaders from his drunken exploits in Rarotonga late last year has been an examination within the franchise as why the backline has been underperforming. As an attacking weapon and expected to contribute tries, the left wing has been part of that review,“ The Herald reported.
Guildford has played eight tests for the All Blacks and made his debut against Wales as a 20-year-old in 2009.