Last updated 12:07, May 6 2015

Former All Blacks wing Zac Guildford is keen on a return to Hawke's Bay after cutting ties with Clermont.

Zac Guildford could be back in a Hawke's Bay jersey this year but his homecoming is understood to be based purely on returning to a safe, secure, comfortable environment.

Guildford's decision to leave French club Clermont halfway through a two-year deal is seen as a mature call by those close to him.

Homesick and unhappy with life in France, where the language barrier has proved difficult to grasp, Guildford's decision to get out before another alcohol-fuelled incident is considered a positive outcome.

At this point, he is interested in playing for his home union, where he's been capped 68 times since 2007, helping defend the Ranfurly Shield and being close to family and close friends.

But he hasn't made any plans to return to Super Rugby and outside of rugby may explore the workforce. It is very much one step at a time.

"Another opportunity for me to become fitter and mentally stronger," Guildford posted on Twitter today. "No point in thinking what could of been time to look to the future."

Hawke's Bay chief executive Mike Bishop has been in regular contact with the former All Blacks wing via Facebook over the past week and is keen to see him back in a Magpies shirt for this year's NPC, which starts on August 13.

"The contact I've had with him is it just hasn't been working in France and Hawke's Bay is where he'd prefer to be," Bishop said.

"Let's be fair, he wouldn't be the first 26-year-old to go overseas into a country that doesn't speak his language and get homesick. I'm pretty confident that's been a factor in this process. New Zealand is home and Napier is very much home."

Guildford burnt bridges with New Zealand Rugby when his contract was terminated last year after four seasons with the Crusaders and several off-field incidents.

There is a long way to go before those relationships could ever be mended. Doubts remain about his ability to cope with the expectations and pressures of professionalism.

When Guildford was granted an immediate release to join Clermont, NZR general manager rugby Neil Sorensen made it clear he had tested the patience of all involved but also seemingly left the door open for a return.

"He is a good man, talented but troubled," Sorensen said at the time. "Zac has struggled to continue to meet the commitments he made to himself to keep on top of his personal issues.

"Ultimately those issues are private to Zac but all parties agree that cutting ties now is the sensible decision.

"We hope that a change of environment, culture, new mates and challenges for this next stage of his young career will be the catalyst to springboard him back into the top form we know he can achieve both on and off the field.

"We hope he keeps the dream to pursue the black jersey alive, and returns one day to fulfil that."

Hawke's Bay do not require the governing body's permission to re-sign Guildford, paving the way for his return this year. Only should he pursue Super Rugby or the sevens arena would NZR become directly involved.

"We're free to contract whoever we wish at our level of the game," Bishop said. "Anything over and above that takes care of itself via NZR. That side of the equation is not for me to comment on. That's for others to take care of.

"He's been a good All Black; a fine Super Rugby player and an outstanding Magpie. He's pretty popular around these parts so we'll make room.

"What's happened with Zac has been well documented. It's time to start backing off that I believe and let the lad just be a rugby player and enjoy life. That's going to be our focus. We've got a lot of time for him.

"It wasn't that long ago he was running around for the All Blacks so if he's injury free and highly motivated we'd do a longer term than a year [deal] I can assure you.

"He's still a very high quality rugby player. He's always welcome back while I'm sitting in this chair."