7 May 2015

Magpies keen on Zac Guildford

12:37 pm on 7 May 2015

The Hawke's Bay Rugby Union is keen to get Zac Guildford playing for them in this year's ITM Cup.

The former All Black wing has quit the French Top 14 rugby club Clermont with a year remaining on his contract, citing personal reasons for his premature departure.

The former All Black Zac Guildford playing for French club Clermont.

The former All Black Zac Guildford playing for French club Clermont. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The former Crusaders and Hawkes Bay back Tweeted: "Unfortunately couldn't return to my best rugby at Clermont and thought it was time to move on and be closer to family."

Guildford joined Clermont last year after he lost his contract with New Zealand Rugby following repeated off-field incidents that stemmed from his battle with alcohol.

The Hawke's Bay chief executive Mike Bishop says they've already started negotiations and are keen contract him.

Bishop says there is a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, but feels a return to the Bay would benefit both parties.

He says Guildford is a local boy, he has a lot of family and friends in the region and it would be good for him.

Clermont released a statement on its website explaining the parting of ways with the 26-year-old.

"Faced with personal problems, Zac could not stand the distance between here and New Zealand and he expressed his wish to join relatives," the club said.

"Despite the help of the entire team and the fact that we have accompanied him throughout the year, it was not enough."

"We knew that we were taking a gamble with Zac. From a sporting perspective, we were successful as he has met our expectations by playing twenty games (1445 minutes), unfortunately the weight of the distance and that resulting weakness are hurdles too big to overcome."

"We will keep contact with Zac and can only hope that back in New Zealand he will find all the stability and support necessary to help him find the right track to continue his career and his life."

Clermont coach Franck Azema said he understands and supports Guildford's decision.

"Throughout the season, we were at his side. Unfortunately, it seems obvious that the best solution for him is to find solace and probably get help that we cannot provide."

Guildford joined Clermont last year after he lost his contract with New Zealand Rugby following repeated off-field incidents that stemmed from his battle with alcohol.

Guildford, who played 11 tests for the All Blacks and was in the 2011 World Cup winning squad, also represented New Zealand Maori and won a Commonwealth Games gold medal with the New Zealand sevens team in 2010.

Guildford did not play in Clermont's loss to Toulon in Sunday's European Champions Cup final.

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