Clermont bring in Zac Guildford
January 10, 2014
Zac Guildford has signed for Clermont © Getty Images
Clermont Auvergne have confirmed the signing of Zac Guildford to replace Castres-bound Sitiveni Sivivatu, the All Blacks winger signing a two-year contract with the option for a third year.
Guildford, 24, becomes Clermont's fifth recruit for next season, after forward Sebastien Vahaamahina, centre Jonathan Davies, hooker John Ulugia and No 8 Fritz Lee, and he will join the club from the Crusaders at the end of the Super Rugby season.
"Zac Guildford's arrival is excellent news from our club," Clermont sporting director Jean-Marc Lhermet said. "After having experienced nearly everything in New Zealand, it is with the ambition of living a new adventure and seeking new challenges that he joins the club for the coming seasons."
Clermont backs coach Franck Azema described Guildford's move as "a tremendous opportunity for us to enrich our team with a player of such talent and versatility".
"Like all the All Blacks we have in our ranks, we believe that he will bring us a bit of his culture, his feel for the movement of the game, which we want to continue to develop," Azema said. "Everyone knows his ability, technique, speed or the explosiveness that he can bring to the attacking line, and we're really happy to offer him a new challenge and a first experience in France."
Guildford said his "difficult" decision "felt like the right move to make".
"I am hugely grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given here in New Zealand," he said. "I have had the honour of playing at the highest level, and I have been fortunate enough to be given second chances.
"Playing for Clermont Auvergne presents new and exciting challenges and I believe that the time is right for me to take this opportunity. Until then, I am going to make the most of the upcoming season with the Crusaders and enjoy playing with the amazing teammates I have here."
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said of Guildford: "He is a gifted player and has a real passion for the game. He will certainly be missed by his Crusaders team-mates but we still have the upcoming season ahead of us and I am sure Zac will continue to be a valuable member of the squad until his departure."
Hawke's Bay chief executive Mike Bishop said the loss of Guildford was a blow to the ITM Cup side as well as the Crusaders.
"It's never OK to be losing talented rugby players but Zac has to do what is best for him," Bishop said. "He goes with our blessing. He's been a favourite son of ours for the past six or seven years. We would have loved to have seen him stay and play out the rest of his career with us but he's always welcome back here."
Guildford made his Hawkes Bay debut in 2007, aged 18, and was a member of the gold medal-winning New Zealand sevens team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He played the last of his 10 Tests for the All Blacks in 2012, ans now seems unlikely to reclaim a Test place following his move to Europe. His decision to leave New Zealand also ultimately rules him out of a shot at an Olympic gold medal with the All Blacks Sevens team in Rio de Janeiro.
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