Zac Guildford has skinful of notes to self
'Success is the best comeback" – Zac Guildford hopes that statement, recently tattooed on his right arm, proves correct when he resurfaces this week.
Having served the four-match suspension imposed on him by the New Zealand Rugby Union after he got drunk, stripped off and thumped a patron in a bar in Rarotonga last November, the All Blacks wing can now expect the scrutiny inside and outside of his rugby bubble to intensify.
Guildford, who has sworn to stay off booze for a year, points to several of the quotes engraved into his flesh to explain his philosophy on life.
Accompanying "Success is the best comeback" is "Don't let the music die in you".
"Which is another way of saying: live life," he said in reference to the latter quote as he ran his fingers over the intricate designs which flood down his arm and stop short of his wrist.
"It is the story of my life.
"There is my family there, a bit of rugby, a few quotes I liked about my dad and it means a lot to me. It is a way of expressing myself."
The death of Guildford's father, Robert, during the world under-20 rugby championship final in Tokyo in June 2009 motivated Zac to have his father's name inked over his heart later that year.
And Zak said his tattoos weren't finished yet.
Although he already has his All Blacks number and a magpie – to reflect his association with the Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union – and details of the Greytown and Napier Tech rugby clubs etched on his limb, he said there was still space to have the Crusaders logo added.
"I am still to get something added for the Crusaders but it is a work in progress.
"I just got it done over the summer. I guess I got one and then I decided to get about four more.
"I quite enjoy them."
Guildford said he knew there could be no returning to his wild ways. He has been warned by the NZRU and Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder that their patience has run out.
He admitted sticking to his pledge of staying away from alcohol had not always been easy and he hoped his return to playing would ease the frustration of watching his team-mates play without him.
"I am a 23-year-old. I guess it [staying clear of alcohol] is a little bit difficult at times but at the moment I have a goal in mind and that is rugby.
"I can't be a hermit.
"I still keep in contact with all my mates and they play a huge role in what I want to achieve and that is to be a good rugby player."
Guildford has remained in regular contact with All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka and agent Simon Porter, and hinted he could be eased into the Crusaders development team, the Knights, this weekend instead of being elevated into the side to play the Highlanders on Saturday night.
"It is not about proving people wrong but about proving a point to me, my coaches and team-mates that I can be a good team-mate this year.
"I owe my team-mates and my coaches a big season."