Zac Guildford is back drinking but vows never to return to his troublesome ways.
Late last year the All Blacks wing was involved in a drunken rampage in Rarotonga that resulted in him being suspended for four matches and instructed to undertake counselling for an alcohol problem.
Speaking yesterday, Guildford, who abstained from the booze for almost a year and recently returned to Christchurch to begin pre-season training with the Crusaders, says he is now a responsible drinker.
"I'd like to think I am at the stage now where I can enjoy a quiet beer every now and then," he said.
"I'm feeling comfortable about it all. Everybody makes mistakes at some point in their life and I've well and truly learnt my lesson.
"Everyone is going to have their own opinion but if you can stay true to yourself and do everything right that's the best thing you can do."
When the 23-year-old was snapped having a beer at the Ellerslie races on Melbourne Cup Day it quickly became news.
But Guildford was quick to dispel rumours he is back to his wild ways.
"I thought I would be fine to get away with having a beer at the races that day but I didn't see the cheeky bugger that took the photo.
"But I have to expect that now. I made a mistake and people are always going to have the eye on me waiting for me to slip up again.
"It's actually probably a good thing for me knowing I am being constantly watched because it will ensure that I keep myself in check. I don't see myself making another mistake and it's made me more determined too."
Guildford said the last 12 months have allowed him to think about his future and what he wants to achieve.
That involves assisting the Crusaders to win the Super Rugby title for the first time since 2008.
"I think it's made me a better person. I've learnt a lot. Obviously it would have been better if I wasn't in that situation but as I said we all make mistakes but it is how you deal with them."
That means an intensive 10 days of pre-season training this week as Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder put Guildford and his fellow squad members through their paces.
The All Blacks don't have to return until late next month, while Matt Todd, George Whitelock and Andy Ellis have been given extended leave until after Christmas. The current group will train through until the end of next week before breaking for Christmas.
"The body and mind are getting a little tired," Guildford said. "The pre-season is probably the hardest part of the year, and this is just the first week, so it's a bit of shock to the system after having three months off.
"It's good though. Even now, just after a few days, I can feel the body getting used to it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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