Masaga & Guildford sign to stay in NZ



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A couple of New Zealand’s most exciting players have opted to break from the current exodus of Southern Hemisphere leaving to play in Europe and have extended their NZRU contracts.

Chiefs flyer Lelia Masaga and the impressive Hurricanes wing Zac Guildford have both have signed until 2011 which will come as a welcome relief for the union as they battle with rich European clubs for top players.

Masaga has been in fine form in the Super 14 this year most recently scoring two tries in the Chiefs’ win over the Reds last weekend.

Meanwhile 19-year-old Guildford had a strong game in his run-on debut for the Hurricanes against the Cheetahs in South Africa.

NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said both players were young, exciting talents with promising international careers.

“These two players are a product of all the development work that is being done at school level, our national age-grade camps, our Academies, and at the Provincial Union and Super 14 level, both on and off the field,” he said on Yahoo!Xtra Sport.

“They are at the start of their professional rugby careers and have indicated that they still have a lot to achieve in New Zealand.

It is encouraging and heartening that they are enjoying their rugby at provincial, Super 14 and national level and want to remain in New Zealand for the long term.”

Hurricanes Zac Guildford was New Zealand’s Age Grade Player of the Year in 2007 and played a leading role in the New Zealand Under 19 team that won the IRB World Championship last year.

He went on to make his Air New Zealand Cup debut for Hawke’s Bay, and finished the season with seven tries in 14 games.

His breakthrough year saw him picked for the Hurricanes in October at the age of just 18.

Twenty one-year-old Lelia Masaga made his Super 14 debut in 2006 and is currently joint-top try-scorer in this year’s competition with six (tied with F Vainikolo of the Highlanders).

He played for the New Zealand Under 21 team in 2006 and 2007 and New Zealand Divisional XV in 2005, and was highlighted in the 2006 Rugby Almanack as one of its five promising young players.

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