Guildford keen to repay Gibson’s faith

Date published: December 10 2015

Former All Blacks wing Zac Guildford is determined to put his troubled past behind him and make an impact for the Waratahs in 2016.

He joined the Waratahs on a 10-month contract after returning to New Zealand earlier this year from Top 14 side Clermont.

A homesick Guildford left Clermont midway through a two-year contract and played for Hawke's Bay in the ITM Cup but is ready for another crack at Super Rugby.

Guildford's previous spell in Super Rugby ended in controversy when he was sacked by the Crusaders in 2014 due to disciplinary issues stemming from heavy drinking.

Former Crusaders assistant coach Daryl Gibson, who has taken over the reins from Michael Cheika as the Waratahs' head coach, approached Guildford to join the Sydneysiders and the 26-year-old is keen to repay the faith Gibson showed in him.

“Gibbo (Gibson) got in contact with me,” Guildford told Fox Sports.

“Obviously the Waratahs had lost a few outside backs and he needed a few more and Gibbo said that he thought I’d fit the role having played a few Super games and I was obviously really keen to get my Super career back on track.

“I loved the way Super Rugby’s played when I was in France. I missed it. I used to watch it all the time and say ‘this is how you play rugby boys’, but the French never listened. 

"But I missed this style of rugby and to have the opportunity here I’m really grateful for.”

Guildford admits that joining the Waratahs wasn't always a sure thing.

After returning to New Zealand from France, he had second thoughts about leaving his family and friends again. It took Gibson showing up at Guildford’s door to convince him otherwise.

“I just had a few external voices — friends and guys that cared about me — saying ‘I don’t think Sydney is a good place for you, you’re just running away again’,” he added.

“I sort of had to sit down and think, and I also had a few other Super Rugby teams that were kind of interested.

“But then Gibbo came over again and that just showed me he was committed to me, so I committed to the team and now that I’m here, I’m loving it.”

When asked whether Gibson’s arrival convinced him to sign for the Waratahs, Guildford said: “Yeah it did. 

“It showed me that he wanted me as a rugby player and to be a part of an organisation, but also that he actually cared about me outside of rugby.

“I think that’s pretty cool from him and that we can connect on that personal level and hopefully transfer it into rugby.”