Fears are increasing that Zac Guildford's contract could be torn up by the NZRU when the player faces a judicial hearing.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder is hopeful of a positive result for the All Black wing as he prepares to front the hearing tomorrow, but sources at the franchise say contact with the national body over the Guildford affair has been limited and not entirely positive.
An NZRU spokeswoman said the hearing was still to be confirmed for tomorrow. Guildford's agent, Simon Porter, could not be contacted last night.
Blackadder has kept in touch with Guildford as he underwent a rehabilitation programme after his latest alcohol-related incident and said the 24-year-old was keen to return to the Crusaders.
"I've kept touching base with Zac and he's tracking pretty well," said Blackadder. "He's keen to get back into rugby. The whole point of his seeking treatment was to come right, with rugby second, but it could be an important factor in his rehabilitation. We'd love to have him back."
A termination of his contract in his final year with the NZRU would almost certainly see the Hawkes Bay provincial player seek employment overseas.
Guildford, who has played 10 tests for the All Blacks, removed himself from the Crusaders indefinitely after allegedly assaulting a partygoer in Christchurch in January. It is alleged that he punched Ryan Kerr, the son of Kaiapoi harness racing trainer Paul Kerr, who said it had been a case of mistaken identity.
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick