Editorial: After a fall comes Zac's triumph

By ANTONY PHILLIPS - Editor


What a World Cup for our Magpies stars this is turning out to be.

Israel Dagg has been one of the shining lights of the tournament, electrifying the game from fullback and running across one try from the wing on Sunday in the All Blacks' 79-15 victory over Canada.

But the absolute show-stopper in that entertaining match at Wellington's Cake Tin was Zac Guildford. Four of the All Blacks' tries were run in by Zac, who grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck and took the opportunity to stamp his mark of quality on the tournament.

He was also instrumental in Israel Dagg's 20th-minute try, which became a real Hawke's Bay power play as the boys showed their combined pace and understanding.

I met Zac Guildford once, briefly. We shook hands as I presented him the Hawke's Bay Today Sportsperson of the Year Award in 2010. Later, we grinned at the camera together.

That was a big weekend for the Guildford family with Zac, then 21, being selected for the All Blacks the day after his triumph at the Hawke's Bay Sports Awards.

Both Zac and his uncle, Daren Guildford, spoke about Zac's late father Rob who died of a heart attack after watching his son play for the New Zealand Under-20s in their World Cup win in Japan in June 2009. "This is for him," said Zac, as he received his award.

Former All Black Norm Hewitt led a group who performed the Ngati Kahungunu haka, Tika Tonu, in Zac's honour.

Big Norm would know a thing or two about the way Zac Guildford must have been feeling two weeks ago when the All Blacks management had him front a press conference and plead mea culpa to breaches of the team's alcohol policy.

But like Norm, Zac has shown that it is possible to pick yourself up from a fall. He showed that on Sunday - time and time again.

Only a few short days ago, some critics were wondering whether we would even see Zac Guildford take the field in this Rugby World Cup. Now, it is hard to imagine the All Blacks playing without him.

We should be proud of him.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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