New backline recruit Zac Guildford says the NSW Waratahs have huge potential, after he successfully re-entered the Super Rugby cauldron.
The former All Black made his return to the southern hemisphere’s premier inter-provincial competition on Saturday night after playing for French club Clermont Auvergne in 2014-15 and then for Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s ITM Cup.
The 27-year-old speedster set up a try for fellow winger Matt Carraro with a run and kick and looked lively in his first Super game since 2014.
NSW scored a 30-10 opening round win over the Reds in Sydney on Saturday, leading 20-0 at halftime.
Guildford was excited by the prospects of a Waratahs side that on Saturday included ten Wallabies.
“I think definitely the potential is huge,” Guildford said.
“If you look at some of the individuals we have and if we can put that all together, as we showed in that first half in patches, we can be a very dangerous team.”
The fact the Waratahs prefer to run under new coach Daryl Gibson sits well with Guildford, who worked under him at the Crusaders.
“He (Gibson) said the Waratahs love to play running rugby and don’t kick much, so I said `yeah, cool, it suits me because I can’t really kick anyway,'” Guildford quipped.
He said the play on Saturday was a lot faster than what he experienced in France.
“The ball moves from one side to the other in a couple of passes, so I had to get on my bike a few times there,” Guildford said.
“But I was a bit nervous. It was like starting again.”
Guildford is anticipating locking horns with an old wing adversary in Henry Speight next Friday when the Waratahs play the Brumbies in Canberra.
“Speight is a very dangerous player, I managed to mark him a few times when he was playing back in New Zealand and I’ve kept a close eye on him since, so I know what he’s about,” Guildford said.
“His strength in the tackle. He’s a pretty hard man to pull down, so you don’t want to get into a game of scrag otherwise he’ll push you off around the legs.”
Gibson, who said Guildford should be satisfied with his game on Saturday night, secured his services for NSW despite some interest from NZ franchises.
“But they were mucking around,’Gibbo’ put pen and paper in front of me,” Guildford said.