Rugby: Guildford eases self-imposed alcohol ban

Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford
All Black Zac Guildford, who has struggled with a drinking problem, says he has changed his ways and now trusts himself to enjoy one or two drinks with friends.

The 23-year-old vowed to give up alcohol after a drunken rampage in the Cook Islands last November. The Crusaders player was suspended for four weeks by the NZRU, and according to his coach vowed to give up alcohol until the end of 2012.

However, he was photographed drinking beer at Ellerslie Racecourse yesterday while watching the Melbourne Cup. He looked relaxed while chatting with female fans who approached him for photographs, and appeared to be in good spirits.

Guildford's agent, Simon Porter, said the All Black had come a long way from the situation he had found himself in last year.

"Zac has met all of his commitments to his coaches, teammates and the NZRU since the incident last year. He is really comfortable with where he is at and trusts himself to enjoy himself with friends socially," Mr Porter told the Herald.

Guildford, playing for the Crusaders this season, received support from the NZ Rugby Union following the Cook Islands incident.

At the time, NZRU professional rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said the drunken behaviour had been "incredibly disappointing" for the union, but had agreed to help the star wing get back on track; organising for him to see a counsellor.

Guildford had already been warned about his drinking. He had attended a press conference in Christchurch during the World Cup to apologise for behaviour under the influence, before going on to allegedly assault two patrons in Trader Jacks bar in Avarua and harass triathlete Kelly Pick while in the Cook Islands for a wedding.

After the incident, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said Guildford had vowed to give up drinking until at least the end of 2012, which he was pleased about.

"What he went through is hopefully going to be a life-changing experience," Blackadder said at the time.

"There's no second chance to learn here. I think that's really clear.

"There are no more misconducts, if there's anything remotely close then he's gone."

- Vaimoana Tapaleao, NZ Herald

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