All Blacks star Zac Guildford punched the wrong person when he was drunk at a house party earlier this month, says the father of the victim.
The Sunday Star-Times can reveal the victim of Guildford's attack was Ryan Kerr, son of well-known Kaiapoi harness racing trainer Paul Kerr.
Guildford has withdrawn indefinitely from the Crusaders for this year's Super Rugby season, and will be undergoing an intensive treatment programme, the New Zealand Rugby Union said in a statement yesterday.
Guildford had vowed to give up alcohol but was photographed drinking at the races in Auckland in November, and earlier this month went on an all-day bender with friends in Christchurch which culminated in him punching Ryan Kerr, who had not been named until now.
Guildford is a keen race-goer, is in a relationship with jockey Samantha Spratt and flats with Stu Bailey, a TAB bookmaker. However, Paul Kerr said rumours the altercation with his son was about a gambling debt were not correct. In fact, Guildford had thought his son was someone else, Kerr said.
"Unfortunately [Ryan] was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a case of mistaken identity."
The Star-Times approached Guildford and his manager, Simon Porter, for comment on the latest revelations but Porter said: "Sorry, I don't want to comment, the [NZRU] press release was enough."
Kerr said reports his son was knocked out by the punch were incorrect. "It was just a punch in the eye - he had a nice black eye but that was it."
Paul Kerr said his son did not want to take it any further and had not gone to police.
"Zac apologised very genuinely the next day and they've spoken about it since then and Ryan is more than happy just to leave it at that. That's where everything's been left. As far as we're concerned that was where it finished."
In a statement yesterday, the NZRU said Guildford, 23, "has withdrawn indefinitely from the Crusaders for the 2013 Super Rugby season to undertake an intensive treatment programme to address his ongoing personal issues".
Chief executive Steve Tew said his organisation was working with the rugby players' association and Guildford's manager "to ensure that he gets the professional help he needs and is held accountable for his actions".
He added: "Zac's withdrawal from the Crusaders means they are able to concentrate on preparing for their 2013 season, and Zac will be free from rugby to concentrate on resolving his personal issues."
He said the NZRU would "address the issue of misconduct at the appropriate time".
New Zealand Rugby Players Association chief executive Rob Nichol said: "We have taken the advice of experts and Zac is committed to the plan they have developed. It is fundamental that he commits fully to the plan, and sees it through. This means withdrawing from the rugby environment."
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said earlier he was "very disappointed" in his troubled winger and it was time Guildford "gets himself sorted once and for all".
In 2011, Guildford was suspended for four weeks and was ordered to undergo alcohol treatment and counselling at his own expense following an NZRU misconduct hearing into a booze-fuelled night in Rarotonga.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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