Rugby: Crusaders fear worst for Guildford

Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder is hopeful of a positive result for Zac Guildford as the All Blacks wing prepares to front an New Zealand Rugby Union misconduct hearing.

Blackadder has kept in touch with Guildford as the player underwent a rehabilitation programme following his latest alcohol-related incident and said the 24-year-old was in a good frame of mind.

However, despite Guildford seeking professional help for his alcohol problem - he was engaged in an intensive 28-day residential programme in the North Island - there are fears his contract could be torn up by the NZRU.

There has been speculation the hearing could happen as early as Thursday but an NZRU spokeswoman said that had yet to be confirmed. Guildford's agent Simon Porter could not be contacted last night.

Blackadder said he couldn't comment on the judicial process, but sources at the franchise say contact with the national body over the Guildford affair has been limited and not entirely positive.

A termination of his contract - Guildford in his final year with the NZRU - would almost certainly see the Hawke's Bay provincial player seek employment overseas.

Blackadder said Guildford was extremely keen to return to the Crusaders.

"I've kept touching base with Zac and he's tracking pretty well," said Blackadder.

"He's keen to get back into rugby. The whole point of his seeking treatment was to come right, with rugby second, but it could be an important factor in his rehabilitation. We'd love to have him back."

Guildford, who has played 10 tests for the All Blacks and starred in the 2011 World Cup when he scored four tries in a pool game against Canada, removed himself from the Crusaders indefinitely after allegedly assaulting a partygoer in Christchurch in January. It is alleged that he punched Ryan Kerr, the son of Kaiapoi harness racing trainer Paul Kerr, who said it had been a case of mistaken identity.

The alleged incident came after Guildford's post-World Cup exploits in Rarotonga, where he allegedly assaulted two men in a bar while drunk, for which he also faced a misconduct charge.

It is understood that when Guildford stood down from the Crusaders in January he presented a medical certificate to the NZRU stating he was unfit to work.

Blackadder has previously said that as Guildford was taking steps to remedy what was a medical issue, he was hopeful the NZRU would give the player another chance.

Guildford, who made his All Blacks debut as a 20-year-old against Wales in 2009, last played for the All Blacks against Ireland in Christchurch last year.