Sydney - Former All Black wild man Zac
Guildford says there will be no excuses this time as he tries to resurrect his
career with the Waratahs after drink problems which he traces back to his
father's tragic death.
The 26-year-old is raring to go again after
joining Australia's 2014 Super 15 champions on a 10-month contract in
The wing is confident enough now to be
giving media interviews in Sydney ahead of the new season starting in February.
"Can't say I'll never, ever drink
again, but for the moment I'm pretty happy not doing it," Guildford told
The Australian newspaper.
Personal tragedy struck in 2009 when his
father Robert died of a heart attack watching from the stands as Guildford and
his New Zealand team-mates won the Junior World Cup in Tokyo.
"It messed me up big time,"
Guildford told foxsports.com.au.
"I went from I guess jubilation and
then five minutes later I found out that my dad passed away, and I'm looking in
the stands and my mum's crying."
It set off a descent from World Cup heroics
to serious alcohol problems and his sacking from the Canterbury Crusaders in
"I used dad's passing as an excuse for
a long time... But I can't keep using it as an excuse until I'm 40," he
"I need to make my dad proud and play
some awesome rugby and do well off the field."
Guildford first went to France but walked
out of a contract with Top 14 side Clermont in May, citing "personal
It was Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson -
his coach at the Crusaders - who talked Guildford into a move to Australia to
embark on a fresh start.
"It showed me that he wanted me as a
rugby player and to be a part of an organisation, but also that he actually
cared about me outside of rugby," Guildford said.
After the signing, Gibson acknowledged the
winger faces a challenge to fit in after the tumultuous years.
"He's probably been carrying that
'bad-boy' baggage around with him for the past few years, and from my
observations he has moved past it and grown up a bit," Gibson said.
Guildford played 11 Tests, debuting against
Wales in 2009, and was a part of New Zealand's 2011 World Cup-winning squad.
Alcohol problems first emerged publicly
during the tournament and just weeks later he had a meltdown in the Cook
Islands, running naked into a bar and punching two men.
Then in January 2013 he allegedly became
involved in a brawl at a party in Christchurch, prompting him temporarily to
withdraw from rugby and seek help.
Now he says he is working to get his life
back. The Waratahs kick off their season on February 27 against the Reds.
"I want to beat those Kiwi teams more
than anyone," he told The Australian. "I can't wait. I'd play
tomorrow if I could."