Kiwi bad boy back in the game

Sat, 09 Mar 2013 05:49
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Wayward All Blacks wing Zac Guildford has been cleared to return to club rugby in New Zealand.

Wayward All Blacks wing Zac Guildford has been cleared to return to club rugby in New Zealand, ahead of a misconduct hearing, the New Zealand Rugby Union said Saturday.

There was no indication whether the Crusaders' star finisher will be able to return to Super Rugby.

Guildford, who has a history of alcohol-related problems, withdrew from the Crusaders indefinitely in January after he reportedly became involved in a brawl at a party.

He has since undergone an intensive treatment programme at a private clinic and committed to a continuing care plan.

In a brief statement the NZRU said Guildford had been cleared to play for his club, Napier Tech in the minor Hawkes Bay competition, this weekend and would attend a misconduct hearing.

The statement made no mention of the Crusaders who have lacked a proven try-scoring wing and lost their opening two matches in the Super Rugby competition.

"We will be meeting with Zac early next week to address the outstanding misconduct allegations, but in order to ensure that the process is fair to him, it is not appropriate to comment further, pending the outcome of that process," NZRU professional rugby manager Neil Sorensen said.

"We have been advised that Zac has completed an initial programme and we have received professional advice that he is able to return to rugby and attend the misconduct process," he added.

Players Association Chief Executive Rob Nichol felt the treatment had benefited Guildford.

"Zac has developed a much greater understanding and acceptance of the challenges he faces, and while now is not the time, hopes in due course to be able discuss these more openly," Nichol said.

"He remains very grateful to those experts who are assisting him, and for the support he has received from family, friends and the wider rugby community," Nichol added.

Guildford admitted to having alcohol issues when publicly reprimanded by All Blacks' management during the 2011 World Cup and two months later announced a 12-month drinking ban after he ran naked into a bar and allegedly punched two men.

The wing has played 10 Tests and scored six tries for the All Blacks.

AFP & rugby365

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