Ex-All Black Guildford eyes move to Tahs

Former All Blacks winger Zac Guildford says he’s on the verge of a return to Super Rugby next season with the NSW Waratahs.

Guildford confirmed on Wednesday he had received a contract offer from the powerful Australian team and his heart is set on crossing the Tasman and beginning a new phase of his chequered career.

The 26-year-old told Radio Sport he has fielded offers from some New Zealand teams but was immediately interested when approached by new Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson, who was the assistant coach at the Crusaders when he began a five-season stint there.

“We got on really well at the Crusaders and I was a bit upset when he left,” said Guildford, a veteran of 79 Super Rugby games with the Hurricanes and Crusaders.

“I played some of my best rugby under him in those years. For me, if I can get excited about playing for someone and a team that I’m passionate about, that’s when I play my best footy.

“If the Waratahs does eventuate, which is looking likely, then hopefully I can return to my best there.”

The Waratahs face a shortage of wingers after losing Peter Betham and Taqele Naiyaravoro to overseas contracts while outside back utility Adam Ashley-Cooper is also heading abroad.

Guildford could take a foreign player slot given Jacques Potgeiter has returned to South Africa.

Guildford has battled issues with alcohol and negative headlines in a career which features 10 Tests from 2009 to 2012.

He left the Crusaders and New Zealand rugby last year as patience ran out with him and ended a stint at French club Clermont a year early, citing homesickness and personal reasons.

Guildford linked with his former NPC province Hawke’s Bay and has played in three early-season defences of the Ranfurly Shield.

The elusive winger says playing outside a Wallabies-laden team that won a maiden title in 2014 and were semi-finalists this year.

“They’ve got a dynamic forward pack and an exciting backline. I play my best when I’m running off players that can create those gaps, guys like (Bernard) Foley and Kurtley Beale,” he said.

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