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Guildford wary of writing off wounded underdogs


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.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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