Guildford itching to get back into action

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay All Black Zac Guildford would have been excused if he offered his ABs, Crusaders and Magpies teammate Israel Dagg a tame "All the Best" in the buildup to tonight's Super Rugby opener.

After all Dagg is starting on the left wing, Guildford's position, in the clash with the Blues at Auckland's Eden Park. There's a chance Dagg and Tom Marshall, who is starting in Dagg's regular fullback spot, will have blinders and make it difficult for Guildford to get a start when he returns from suspension next week.

"It's all good ... I passed on my best wishes to Izzy and the entire team at our final training. I must admit I'm getting itchy feet with all the training and no games," Guildford said.

His four week suspension imposed by the New Zealand union following last November's drunken behaviour in the Cook Islands ends after tonight's match. He is hoping to play in the March 3 game against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Naturally Guildford wants to be in the Crusaders starting line-up when they take on the Chiefs at Napier's McLean Park on March 9.

"It was an awesome occasion when we played the Chiefs at McLean Park last year. I'm sure the fans will fill the park and get behind us again," Guildford said.

He pointed out the Crusaders had trained well this week and he was confident they will gain revenge for a 24-22 loss in the corresponding game last year. Guildford believed Dagg on the left wing and Marshall at fullback was the best fit for the Crusaders in his absence.

"Izzy's best position is fullback but he also does well on the wing ... they're similar positions," added Guildford who will watch tonight's match on television.

With lock Ross Kennedy not selected in the 22, Dagg, will be the only Magpie in action for the Crusaders tonight. Three 2011 Magpies, Tongan prop Sona Taumalolo, former All Black hooker Hika Elliot and under-20 world champion lock Brodie Retallick, will start for the Chiefs against the Highlanders in Hamilton tomorrow night.

Magpies inside back Andrew Horrell will be on the subs bench along with former Magpies hooker and Samoa captain Mo Schwalger. Magpies halfback Chris Eaton starts for the Canes and first five-eighth Daniel Kirkpatrick is likely to come off the bench against the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday morning.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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