Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Chances eventually run out

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Zac Guildford after his alcohol-fuelled incident in Rarotonga. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Zac Guildford after his alcohol-fuelled incident in Rarotonga. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Many people, including Zac Guildford himself, would have thought that the troubled young All Black's career was over when he was involved in yet another alcohol-fuelled incident.

At a private party in Christchurch, he punched a fellow partygoer and despite no charges being laid, Guildford outed himself to his Crusaders bosses, presumably because he knew the story would get out anyway.

On the face of it, it's not the most heinous crime - he apologised to the young man he assaulted and that apology was accepted.

But coming as it does on top of a long string of alcohol-fuelled misdemeanours, Guildford would have been aware that his punch could have delivered a knockout blow to his career.

He is undergoing intensive in-house treatment at an undisclosed North Island location and has conceded what most people knew anyway - that he has a problem with alcohol and sheer willpower isn't enough to keep him safe.

His Crusaders coach, Todd Blackadder, is willing to give him another chance. He's said that provided Guildford gets ongoing professional help, they'd love to see him back in the team. Blackadder says that as far as he's concerned, it's not a matter of misconduct - Guildford has an illness and for the first time, he's faced up to that and is seeking help.

However, while the Crusaders are willing to extend Guildford a lifeline, the NZRU could be another matter. Guildford has only a one-year contract with the union and their patience has been sorely tried after giving the talented young star a number of last chances.

That's the thing with last chances - eventually, you're going to run out of them.

If you are talented in your chosen field, your employers will give you a certain amount of leeway. You can make mistakes and let people down. You can renege on promises to change your ways. You can ask for - and receive - forgiveness for misdemeanours. But eventually, people will lose patience.

Your talent is not enough to compensate for the amount of trouble you generate. The time and energy expended on cleaning up after a bright young thing is disproportionate to their value - so they are let go.

I've seen it happen to individuals within sports, law and the media and came dangerously close to being one of those people myself.

I was lucky in that my second chance came after a period of maitre d'-ing in a Wellington restaurant. Although I'd had a fabulous start to a television career, being chosen as a presenter on Fair Go at 21, it all seemed a bit too easy, and I didn't value the opportunities I had.

Work started drying up and a girl's got to make a living, so off I went waitressing.

When I was offered a second crack at a career in the media, I was determined to make the most of the opportunity - and I have.

God knows Guildford is not the only person in this country who has an unhealthy relationship with the bottle. It's just that his high profile means his struggle has become a very public one.

I hope Guildford is able to prevail in his battle with the booze. And that he understands that last chances eventually run out. Otherwise he'll become just another has-been who never really was.

The time's come to sack Zac, Editorial, p41

- Herald on Sunday

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