Guildford left to lament lost opportunity

The All Blacks could launch their World Cup rugby quest without a specialist wing after Zac Guildford's flustered audition for the tournament opener against Tonga at Eden Park in Auckland on September 9.

Guildford, a marginal selection ahead of Hosea Gear and Sitiveni Sivivatu when the 30-man cup squad was named on Tuesday, endured a difficult 55 minutes in Brisbane on Saturday before the Wallabies won the Tri-Nations decider 25-20.

The only member of the outside backs group who has no test pedigree at fullback or in the midfield, Guildford was rattled after dropping an early high ball and never truly recovered before he was substituted for Isaia Toeava.

Guildford was not culpable for first half tries to Will Genia and Radike Samo but his handling errors continued to mount as the All Blacks paid for trying to play expansively in greasy conditions.

Toeava and the All Blacks' other starting wing, Cory Jane, were hardly in scintillating form either though Guildford still looms as the most likely casualty.

After being named in the World Cup squad, Guildford admitted the Super Rugby final at Suncorp Stadium last month was the low point of his season as the Crusaders finisher again struggled in a fever-pitch atmosphere.

Apart from Toeava, Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui are also vying for the left-wing berth, leaving Guildford to lament a lost opportunity.

Henry did not name Guildford when making the observation: "Some guys would have been disappointed in how they played.

"They didn't play as well as they normally play or the standard they played to get into this side."

However, assistant coach Wayne Smith acknowledged the test was not Guildford's finest moment before backing him to bounce back.

"Zac's pretty disappointed. He wasn't alone was he?" Smith said.

"His errors are probably a bit more noticeable because he's out in the open. There were defensive errors around the breakdown that were just as glaring."

Smith said the naming of the World Cup squad mightht have been a distraction for Guildford.

"There were a lot of things going on that can be difficult to handle for a young man," he said, adding "he's played well to get into the team and he'll be fine going forward."


- Hawkes Bay Today

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