Editorial: Change may save winger in turmoil

By Andrew Austin

Zac Guildford is clearly a young man in turmoil.

Yet again the talented, but wayward Magpies winger is in trouble and this time it looks like it could be bad.

The Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby Union are investigating an incident involving Guildford at a private home in Christchurch recently. Guildford's coach at the Crusaders, Todd Blackadder, said yesterday that the incident was "very serious" and that the player was left "distraught and emotional".

Given Guildford's history with alcohol it is more than likely that he has done something while under the influence of alcohol. It is a very sad situation when a very talented sportsman can't confront his demons and despite having everything life can offer him still can't, for whatever reason, behave in a professional and responsible way.

Guildford has had a tough life and losing his father in the way he did would have been hard on him. The fact that he went on to make the All Blacks is a credit to him, but if the last few years are anything to go by, he is on a path of self-destruction. The New Zealand Rugby Union seems to have done all it can to help and support him in his battle against alcohol, but this may be the last straw.

It is time for Guildford to accept responsibility for his life and maybe the only way for him to do that is for him to remove himself from his current environment. The indications are that he is probably not mixing with people who set a good example for him.

Perhaps the best thing the New Zealand Rugby Union could do is follow the example of their cricket counterparts who told their problem child Jesse Ryder to go away and sort himself out before allowing him to resume his cricketing career. Hopefully, when Guildford finally realises that his untoward behaviour is ruining his life and his career, he will get the help he needs. It seems to me that the rugby union has no choice but to cut ties with Guildford.

Maybe it is even time for him get help before heading overseas to a Japanese or British club where he can reinvent himself and do what he does best - play rugby.

It may just save his life.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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