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Zac's Back And Eyeing Big Banahan

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

London, Nov 19 NZPA - A dream test debut under his belt, Zac Guildford strolled through a chaotic Cardiff night with his mum thinking he could pack his boots until the Barbarians tour finale.

So this week's callup to face England came as a surprise, along with fellow winger Sitiveni Sivivatu's generous offer.

"He said `if you want me to play right wing I can', but I said `you've had that left wing for 40-something tests so I'd better not steal it off you'. I said I'll stick on the right wing," Guildford revealed.

The Hawke's Bay 20-year-old played most of his age-grade and first-class rugby on the left side, but kicked with his right foot and admitted he was probably better suited in No 14 anyway.

It also booked a potential intriguing matchup with England giant Matt Banahan, who played on the left against Australia and Argentina and scored the only try of their much-criticised victory last weekend.

"I don't know if I'm marking him or (Ugo) Monye. Banahan's about six foot seven and he loves the contact. It'll be different, last time I marked (Leigh) Halfpenny he was probably half his size. I haven't seen much of him but he goes well.

"Big guys don't really like turning around so that's one weakness they have. But also he's got a strength in size. It'll be interesting."

With a mature head to match his outstanding rugby talent, Guildford took plenty from his Cardiff debut.

"I played okay so I don't want to slip up. I want to keep raising the bar."

"Playing in front of 70-80,000, not 10,000 like McLean Park, was a huge difference. I learned just to trust my instincts, I went out there and played like I was just in front of 10,000. It's about not letting the occasion take over."

The only criticism from the All Blacks coaches was his defence, which he said they rated six out of 10 and demanded he keep advancing on the ball-carrier rather than plant his feet.

They identified his ability under the high ball, and kick returns, as one of his big assets and Guildford was braced for plenty of that at Twickenham.

Along with Sivivatu and fullback Mils Muliaina, the All Blacks back three were determined to make good use of the inevitable supply of ball headed their way from Jonny Wilkinson's boot.

"If they want to aim a few my way then I'm not too bothered. I've worked on the high ball quite a bit in recent months and it's one part of my game I quite enjoy.

"We don't just want to kick it back at them and get into some aerial ping pong. We want to look at our options off the first kick and assess. We want to scan and have a bit of a look first. It's not always about kicking, there's space in other areas."


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