Crusaders to consider Zac Guildford for Kings
March 18, 2013
Zac Guildford has completed his first training session with the Crusaders since he was cleared to play again © Getty Images
Zac Guildford has attended his first full Crusaders training session since he completed a month-long stay in a rehabilitation centre to address his self-confessed alcohol addiction.
The Crusaders winger appeared to be in good condition, but coaching staff said he still had to prove himself to be considered for the 22-man squad to play the Southern Kings from South Africa in Christchurch on Saturday.
"We'll assess where he is at today and check his fitness. Obviously he's got a bit of homework to do so we'll make that decision in the next 24 to 48 hours," Crusaders attack coach Aaron Mauger said after training.
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder said last week that Guildford would be considered for the side's coming Super Rugby tour of South Africa, saying "we will have our one-on-ones with Zac and he'll be slowly integrated into the team".
Mauger said on Monday that Guildford's speech to the team on Friday, after two months of self-exclusion as he worked through his alcohol issues, had provided the Crusaders with extra motivation for the match against the Bulls.
The victory against the three-time champions was the Crusaders' first win of 2013, after away losses to the Blues and the Hurricanes, and Mauger said: "Zac came in on Friday and spoke really well to the boys, and probably inspired a few of them. It was pretty emotional and he was pretty brave getting up and being honest to the players, and I think they respected that."
The Crusaders looked as if they can win an eighth Super Rugby title (video available only in Australia)%]
Mauger, meanwhile, said that Crusaders opponents could expect to face an unrelenting attacking approach though the season. The slow-starting seven-time champions hit their straps with six tries in the 41-19 win over the previously defeated Bulls in Christchurch on Saturday, and Mauger said the players had been encouraged to back themselves under pressure and to keep attacking throughout the preliminary rounds so they would have the confidence to continue that game plan during the play-offs.
"Hopefully we will be there at crunch time and they'll be ready to roll," he said. "Certainly we were a bit disappointed in the first 20 minutes [against the Bulls] when our execution wasn't quite there, but in saying that we created a lot of opportunities. We made errors coming on the back of stretching the opposition out but you can't score six tries without trying stuff and we're happy with the intent and the attacking mindset."