Zac swears off booze for year

By Corey Charlton, APN corey

Bay rugby star Zac Guildford should be sent back to the Cook Islands to do charity work as punishment for his misconduct, says Cook Islands News managing editor John Woods.

Mr Woods told Radio New Zealand Guildford had still not apologised to the people he offended, and he believed charity work was a more appropriate punishment.

The All Blacks and Crusaders wing was suspended for four weeks by the New Zealand Rugby Union following a misconduct charge relating to his drunken behaviour in the Cook Islands in November.

Guildford has vowed to give up alcohol until the end of 2012 as he bids to get his life and rugby career back on track.

He was not available for comment yesterday but said in a statement released by the NZRU: "I am embarrassed by what has happened, but I know that I let down the many people who support me. I am focused on getting myself into the place I need to be when I return to rugby next year."

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said he was pleased Guildford had vowed to give up drinking until at least the end of next year.

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

"For example, he's not going to be drinking alcohol for a year and he's getting some really good therapy.

"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."

With the ban including the Crusaders' three Super Rugby pre-season fixtures against the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Rebels, Guildford will miss only one competition game - the match against the Blues at Eden Park on February 24.

Blackadder said the Crusaders had been consulted over Guildford's penalty, which includes a fine, and he had no problem with the suspension, despite the fact it could impact on the franchise. "We support the NZRU with their stance. We've put our agendas aside," he said. "We'll go through this process with him, stand by him, and suck it up like everyone else. I think what is important is that Zac gets the help he needs."

The NZRU's general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorensen told Radio New Zealand termination of Guildford's contract had been a very real possibility.

"Ultimately we came round to the fact that we still need to support this young man who has issues - and it's probably in Zac's best interest that he remains with the NZRU."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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