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Guildford wary of writing off wounded underdogs

Date

Georgina Robinson

Hitting form … Crusader Zac Guildford.

Hitting form … Crusader Zac Guildford. Photo: Getty Images

THE injury-hit Waratahs might be rank outsiders to topple last season's Super Rugby finalists in Sydney this weekend but Crusaders winger Zac Guildford says that makes them more dangerous.

Guildford has been named on the wing alongside All Blacks teammates Israel Dagg and Dan Carter in a backs combination widely tipped to stop the Waratahs shaky mid-season momentum.

But the 23-year-old said he would not take anything for granted before Sunday's round-10 clash.

''I've heard about the injuries but an understrength team is more of a danger for us and we can't take them lightly because we know the guys who've got their chance in the jersey will play with everything they've got,'' he said.

''The Waratahs are always a dangerous side and we won't expect anything less than that, even though they are a little bit depleted.''

Guildford could be speaking from experience. The Wairarapa-raised footballer is in the fight of his life for an All Blacks jersey and knows what it means to scrap for survival.

''I missed [the Crusaders'] first game but apart from that I've played every game since,'' he said of his season to date. ''I'm looking to build into the season and I've got a bit of form going now, so I'm just hoping to keep it going.''

A four-game suspension after a bender in the Cook Islands at the end of last year was the reason he missed his team's season opener against the Lions in Johannesburg.

The episode, which followed three ''please explain'' appearances in 18 months before top-level officials, triggered an ultimatum from the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Guildford pledged to stay alcohol-free for a year to save his Super Rugby career, but it appeared his stint in the All Blacks jersey had come to an end.

However, a recent meeting with new coach Steve Hansen and improving form for the Crusaders has signalled the winger might be down but is by no means out.

Guildford said the scrutiny during the Rugby World Cup was challenging to deal with but was well in the past now as the Crusaders focused on moving on from their near-trademark slow start to the Super Rugby season.

''It's a bit annoying really, we'd like to start well but we've sort of kept that history up again this season,'' he said of the squad's back-to-back early season losses.

''We had a talk the other week after we had a good win against the Stormers [in round eight]. It was the first one where we played rugby we could be really proud of and that showed us what we could do if we played as a team and were disciplined and played for 80 minutes. We have another opportunity to do that this Sunday.''

The Waratahs are taking their time naming the XV who will start against a Crusaders side that this week welcomed the playing return of dynamic breakaway Richie McCaw.

Backs Peter Betham and Atieli Pakalani were named in an un-numbered 22 yesterday, as well as reserve prop Jeremy Tilse, who will cover for Paddy Ryan's absence through injury.

Guildford said the Waratahs were known for their ball-carrying forwards and ''classy'' Test-capped backs.

But it is the partnership between halfback Brendan McKibbin and likely starting five-eighth Berrick Barnes that will be the focus of the Crusaders' strategy. ''If we can shut down their 9-10 combination that'll go a long way towards [a win],'' Guildford said.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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