Former All Black Zac Guildford has opened up to Woman's Day on the suicidal thoughts that forced him back to New Zealand following a tormented rugby career plagued by depression and drug dependence.

Guildford, who now lives in Hamilton, was offered an opportunity to play at Nevers in France late last year, and after originally 'jumping at it', turned it down due to his mental health.

"I thought I'd resurrect my professional career and iron out all the stuff I'd done wrong in the past," Guildford told Woman's Day. "But the pressure was too much. I was having suicidal thoughts. I knew if I didn't leave the country then and get home to my support, I wouldn't be here any more."

Guildford was a member of the All Blacks squad that won the 2011 World Cup but his career nosedived afterwards because of issues with alcohol and mental health.

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All Blacks winger Zac Guildford heads for the tryline during the All Blacks v Canada pool A match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup at Wellington Regional Stadium. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
All Blacks winger Zac Guildford heads for the tryline during the All Blacks v Canada pool A match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup at Wellington Regional Stadium. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

Guildford said the tragic passing of his father in 2009, who suffered a heart attack in the stands while watching him play for New Zealand in the Under 20 World Cup final in Tokyo, was the 'tipping point' of his troubled career.

Guildford said he still hadn't processed his father's death by the time the Rugby World Cup came around in 2011.

Woman's Day reported Guildford developed a secret thousand-dollar-a-week drug habit while playing for Clermont Auvergne in France in 2015, where he was caught with cocaine in his system and had his contract terminated.

Guildford now works as a teaching aide for teens with intellectual disabilities and said he is finally feeling happy.

Zac Guildford playing for Waikato Sevens last year. Photo / Andrew Warner.
Zac Guildford playing for Waikato Sevens last year. Photo / Andrew Warner.

In February, the 10-test international winger was rushed to hospital in Phuket, Thailand after being involved in a motorbike accident while celebrating his 30th birthday. He was reportedly riding pillion on a Harley Davidson when he fell off the back and suffered severe grazes to his back, hand and backside.

Although now living in Hamilton, he was not selected for this year's Waikato provincial side. But he was back in the public eye in August when appearing on Celebrity Treasure Island.

* The four-page interview with Zac Guildford features in the Woman's Day, on sale this week


WHERE TO GET HELP:

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If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• https://www.lifeline.org.nz/services/suicide-crisis-helpline
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202