Rugby World Cup
The New Zealand Rugby Union is bringing in external expertise to help All Black Zac Guildford who has admitted he has a drinking problem.
The NZRU announced details today as Guildford returned to New Zealand from his troubled stay in Rarotonga.
NZRU general manager professional rugby Neil Sorensen confirmed that while Guildford had embarrassed himself and rugby, it was important to provide a structured and ongoing plan of support for the 22-year-old.
He would be facing a misconduct hearing though after his drunken rampage in the tropical holiday spot.
"From an employer's perspective, the events in Rarotonga have been incredibly disappointing and Zac needs to be accountable for his actions. This will involve Zac going through our misconduct process over the coming weeks," Sorensen said.
"However, it is fairly clear that there are some very big issues involved here, and rugby cannot provide all the solutions on our own. We are working with a professional counselling organisation which will provide guidance and input as to the next steps for the coming days, weeks and months.
"That will obviously require a joint approach with Zac, his family and other supporters, the Crusaders and the NZRU."
GUILDFORD 'OFF THE BOOZE'
Guildford has arrived back in New Zealand, saying he wants to give up drinking, after being smuggled on to a flight off the Cook Islands via a catering truck.
Guildford addressed the waiting media at Auckland Airport this morning, saying he was deeply embarrassed about his actions in Rarotonga which included allegations he assaulted two people last Friday night (NZ time) and made sexually inappropriate comments to a triathlete.
"I would like to apologise for myself. I feel really embarrassed. The last few months I have had a bit of a problem with drinking and I need to address that, and all I can do now is move forward and put some positive steps in place with a good support group I have."
Guildford said Friday night was a "blur" and admitted he was heavily intoxicated.
"My actions were not that of a professional sportsman, which I'm disappointed with. I just want to get home and sort myself out."
He wanted to take the correct steps to ensure he could continue with the All Blacks and the Crusaders, saying "I can't keep messing up."
"I just hope the New Zealand Rugby Union have faith in me and I can put the right structures in place and prove to them that this time Im ready to give it a good crack and put myself in a better position to be a better person, and if being an All Black flows from that then it does, but at the moment I'm concentrating on myself and the Crusaders.
"I accept that myself and alcohol at the moment don't mix too well, obviously it switches something inside me and that's disappointing but at the moment I'm giving it up and just looking to better myself and sort out issues that obviously go on when I do drink.
"I have to, I mean I've got a lot of fans out there and my family and I said my support crew and I can't keep messing up, I think I owe them and myself a long time off the booze and a better and healthy future."
"I guess it'll be a bit different from what I'm used to. It's always good to go out and have a few drinks with [your] mates but obviously at times you go overboard so for me giving it up it's only a small sacrifice, my job is to play rugby and to be a role model and I want to start doing that."
Guildford said he had met the two men he had an altercation with in a Rarotongan bar and they had urged him to keep playing rugby.
"They were highly successful, I apologised to the two guys that I had a altercation with in the bar and I couldn't ask for more from them, we sat down and had a chat for about 15 minutes and they support me and that was about it.
"They just said that they wanted me to get better and wished me all the best for the future and they wanted to see me back out there again playing rugby."
WINGING IT OUT OF THE COOKS
The winger's departure from Rarotonga happened just hours after New Zealand Rugby Union mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka assured the local media that Guildford was not leaving the country.
Last Friday a drunken, bloodied and naked Guildford allegedly assaulted two patrons in a bar and earlier in the day allegedly abused and harassed a woman. Yesterday the woman, triathlete Kelly Pick, laid a complaint with police about Guildford.
With Enoka, Guildford met and apologised to the two men he was said to have assaulted in Trader Jacks bar.
Enoka told the Cook Islands News that Guildford would be making an offer of some kind in the future to make amends.
Enoka had said there were no immediate plan for Guildford to leave Rarotonga but hours later a car carrying both the All Black and the coach arrived at Rarotonga's airport.
The car sped away from waiting reporters to a cargo area where Guildford then got into a security van and was taken out to the waiting plane.
With the plane's gangways visible to the media in the public area, Pacific Blue staff and Cooks Islands officials put Guildford in a catering truck and lifted him aboard through a service door. He was only briefly visible.
Enoka was seen getting on the plane, laughing.
Only after the pair had boarded were the other passengers allowed on the plane.
WOMAN 'FELT PRESSURED' TO DROP COMPLAINT
Meanwhile, Pick says she felt pressured by All Blacks management to drop her complaint with Cook Islands police.
Pick alleged Guildford directed sexual profanities at her while she was out running.
When Pick filed a complaint with police yesterday, she was asked if she had been put up to it by the media. She strongly rejected that.
On top of that she said Enoka phoned her and asked her to meet Guildford, but said she was to keep journalists away.
It was stressed to the Rarotonga-based New Zealander that Guildford would apologise, but their meeting should be secret. Pick was uncomfortable, saying she felt it was implied she should drop her complaint for the meeting to occur.
The New Zealand Rugby Union could not be reached for comment.
Acting police commissioner Akatauira Matapo said yesterday that although Pick's complaint would be investigated, Guildford was free to go.
The World Cup winger had been held in the police cells overnight, and, given their dank and smelly conditions, that was punishment enough, he said.
Matapo expressed surprise at the time it took Pick to lay a complaint, saying he regarded it as a waste of police time. Guildford would be charged if there was evidence.
"We have no charges against him ... I am not even too sure where he is on the island."
Matapo said public drunkenness charges had been considered at the time of the incident.
Guildford did not get special treatment. Matapo said his staff did not know at the time he was an All Black.
Rarotonga sources said a stag "night" began about 10am on Thursday (Friday, NZ time) at Sails restaurant at Muri Beach.
Guildford later drove out on a motorbike, with another rider.
When they came across Pick running, they began doing "donuts" on their bikes. Guildford kept driving in front of her, the triathlete said.
"He made comments about me that were derogatory and sexually orientated," she said. Some of it was sexual profanity.
"He was making comments about my physical stature. When I told him to leave me alone, he got aggressive. I was a little bit worried about his behaviour. I was worried that if I told them to go ahead he might retaliate."
She hid in a shop, and said she was still angry days later. She decided to complain to police when she heard no charges would arise from the incident at the bar.
She wanted Guildford to accept the consequences of his behaviour.
"The incident with me is quite minor. He needs to face up to his actions; he needs to face up and face consequences. He cannot keep apologising, he has to face his actions."
After the incident with Pick, Guildford and a friend went to the airport to greet those coming in for a wedding. "You could hear them before you could see them," said Ngwee Walden, manager of Moana Sands Resort.
- Fairfax NZ
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