Zac Guildford: Crusaders Winger's Career Hangs in Balance After Another Incident

Jeff Cheshire@@jeff_cheshireAnalyst IIJanuary 21, 2013

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 21:  Zac Guildford of the Crusaders runs in to score a try during the Super Rugby Qualifying Final match between the Crusaders and the Bulls  at AMI Stadium on July 21, 2012 in Christchurch, New Zealand.  (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
Martin Hunter/Getty Images

New Zealand and Crusaders rugby winger Zac Guildford has been involved in yet another drunken incident and has stepped down from the Crusaders, as was reported by the New Zealand Herald.

This comes as the latest in a series of incidents that date back to his late night out in the weeks prior to Rugby World Cup 2011. However, Guildford may not be so lucky as to get his contract continued this time, as was reported by the Timaru Herald

It is obvious that Guildford is devastated by the incident, as from all accounts he has been working hard at his alcohol issues and had a pretty clean 2012. The Press reported that he has apologised for his behaviour, and it seems he is showing genuine remorse.

But it must be asked how many times can this happen? You can't just keep saying sorry for the same incidents and expect that to be enough.

It gets to the stage where sorry simply doesn't mean anything, and a harder line needs to be taken.

Is this the stage we are at now?

That remains to be seen, but as it was remarked he was on his last chance after the well-publicised incident in Rarotonga in November 2011, it would seem his chances should be slim.

Incidents such as the ones he has been involved in over the past years taint the image of both All Black rugby and New Zealand rugby as a whole. Both maintain extremely high standards, standards that have made them the most dominant country in the history of rugby.

The idea that you are an All Black 24/7 really rings true here. While it's true Guildford wasn't involved with the team for the latter part of 2012, he was part of the team that played Ireland in June and was never far from selection for the later games in a lot of minds. 

That is a position thousands of New Zealanders dream of being in, and for someone to treat it with such disrespect is somewhat insulting.

There are those that will say he is allowed to have a drink when he wants. This is true, but it is also true that it shouldn't get to a stage where he does something stupid. The facts are, he is a professional rugby player, he is being paid to keep out of this sort of trouble.

It's not as though he is irreplaceable. At an All Black level there are plenty of wingers available to step up. Cory Jane, Julian Savea and Hosea Gear have all shown themselves to be amongst the best in the world, whilst utilities such as Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison, Richard Kahui and Andre Taylor are also of a high class.

The Crusaders will find that losing their star winger would affect them more, but with blooding youngster Johnny McNicholl or trying Robbie Fruean to pair with Adam Whitelock on the wing, there are options. Tom Marshall too could be a viable option as his way to the fullback jersey appears blocked by Israel Dagg.

That said, he would still be a loss to both. Guildford has one of the highest work rates of any winger in the country, constantly looking to come into the line and get his hands on the ball. He is dangerous when receiving the inside ball, whilst also possessing a good turn of pace and an eye for a gap which makes him lethal out wide.

The tragedy of the situation is that at just 23 years of age, he had a lengthy career in front of him and was only going to get better.

But for now his fate hangs in the balance, and undoubtedly in the coming days and weeks we will find out more about the result of this mishap.

If he is granted another chance, then we can only pray he straightens himself out once and for all and enables himself to reach his potential as a player. If not, then he may be added to the list of promising All Blacks whom for one reason or another, were never able to go on to fulfil their destiny.