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Guildford revives sevens career

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/12/2016

Former All Blacks wing Zac Guildford is hoping sevens rugby will help him work his way back into Waikato's NPC team next season.

His naming in the Waikato sevens team for this weekend's northern regional tournament in Cambridge is the first step on that path.

Guildford, 27, has battled issues with alcohol in a career which featured 10 All Blacks Tests between 2009 and 2012.

He has been named in an 18-strong Waikato squad to contest the regional tournament which also includes teams from Northland, Auckland, North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Bay of Plenty.

"I was approached to come play sevens for Waikato a couple of months ago and thought it was a great opportunity for the 15s season ahead," Guildford said.

He admits the prospect of being coached by former All Black and sevens star Roger Randle is a massive draw card.

"It's good to be under him, as he's got a lot of experience and knowledge.

"There are a lot of young guys in the team and he passes that wealth of knowledge down to them, and I think he's a great role model for us to follow."

Guildford, who won gold with the New Zealand Sevens at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games, wouldn't mind returning to the international arena.

"That would be a good result if I could push my way into that team. I haven't played a lot of sevens in recent years," he said.

"I'm still re-adjusting to the game myself and learning - but if I can get my fitness right up there through the next few tournaments and play some good rugby, that will speak for itself, so fingers crossed."

A return to the NPC with Waikato is also in his sights, after signing to play club rugby with Hamilton Old Boys.

"That would be the ultimate goal - sevens is here at the moment to get me ready for that. I'm not signed so hopefully I can earn my way into a 15s contract."

Guildford accumulated 79 Super Rugby games for the Hurricanes and the Crusaders between 2008-14, also turning out for Hawke's Bay in the NPC between 2007-13.

He took up a two-year contract with French side Clermont Auvergne but left the Top 14 team in 2015, then signed on with the NSW Waratahs for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

He played only seven games before leaving for "wellbeing reasons", going on to sign for NPC rugby with Tasman.

Guildford left the Makos in August this year, then turned out for Wairarapa Bush in the Heartland Championship.

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