New Zealand

Guildford gets an All Blacks lifeline

Sun, 20 May 2012 09:00
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Crusaders wing Zac Guildford was handed an All Black lifeline when he was recalled to the national training squad as a replacement for the injured Cory Jane.

The injuries to Hurricane Jane and Chiefs utility back Richard Kahui, who starred for the All Blacks in their World Cup final win over France last year, could also mean a Test debut for Julian Savea in the three-match series against Ireland which starts on June 9.

Guildford was a notable omission from the All Blacks training squad named early this month, but he was recalled after the Hurricanes revealed Jane could be out of action for six weeks.

He suffered a high ankle sprain against the Brumbies on Friday to be the second wing ruled out after Kahui dislocated a shoulder the previous week playing for the Chiefs against the Queensland Reds.

Guildford was reprimanded by the All Blacks management during the World Cup last year over problems with alcohol and a month later he had to apologise for a drunken binge in the Cook Islands in which he staggered naked and bleeding into a bar and assaulted two people.

But he said the support of people close to him had been important in getting him back into the All Blacks frame.

"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 told reporters.

Coach Steve Hansen said he would be adding one more wing to the training squad but stopped short of confirming it would be Hosea Gear, the other notable omission from last year's champion World Cup side.

"We might look at someone who can double up as a utility, and just give us a bit more strength in that area. Richard (Kahui) could clearly play three positions - fullback, wing and centre," he said.

Guildford joins Hurricanes speedster Julian Savea as the only specialist wings in the squad, and Hansen admitted that he has been impressed with the form of Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor who has shown some ruthless attacking instincts this season.

"He's probably in contention, isn't he. He's playing well and doing a lot of things right. He's obviously a person you'd look at but others are out there too, Hosea is still very much in our minds as well. Monday will be a good debate," said Hansen.

Meanwhile, hooker Keven Mealamu remains sidelined by injury and Hansen indicated another hooker could be added to the squad to join Andrew Hore if he did not recover soon.

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