Editorial: Nowhere to hide for Zac any longer

By ANTONY PHILLIPS - Editor

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Zac Guildford has ensured his name will be writ large in the anthology of New Zealand sport.

Unfortunately for Zac, it is fast becoming for reasons he would rather forget (if he could recall them in the first place, that is).

His reportedly outrageous behaviour in a bar in Rarotonga means there will almost certainly be more written about his off-field indiscretions than his on-field triumphs for a long, long time to come.

There is, it has to be pointed out, no shortage of Hawke's Bay precedent when it comes to this kind of thing (Norm Hewitt and Jesse Ryder are Bay boys who can attest to how far you can fall when you are a sports star who drinks to excess then takes it on the town).

Zac has slipped before and this column has thrown its support behind him, understanding, as most of us in Hawke's Bay do, that he is a talented young man who has had a tremendously challenging time since the sudden death of his father three years ago.

But All Blacks, whether they like it or not, are New Zealand ambassadors and Kiwis will have been genuinely shocked to hear that an All Black had so far lost the plot that he was staggering drunk, naked and bleeding through a bar, thumping people.

Some say the spotlight is on professional sportsmen as never before. But in truth, Zac's drunken display at Trader Jacks bar would have made headlines back in Sean Fitzpatrick's day.

Sports stars who behave in this way will never be left alone. They will always become screaming headlines. It's tough but true.

The feeling that many in Hawke's Bay will be left with is a sense of sadness. Sadness that this star of our sporting firmament has brought himself to such a very low place indeed.

Now, Zac needs to listen to the right voices. All Blacks teammate and former Magpie Cory Jane is probably not the ideal support person. Jane's comment that "It's not the problem of drinking, it's where you do it" is not the message for Zac Guildford. Not any longer.

Zac's family, friends and fans must surely agree that enough is enough. He needs the kind of help that will rehabilitate him in a life-changing way. And he needs it fast.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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