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Guildford suspended over Raro incident

Wednesday 14 December 2011 | Published in Regional


All Blacks winger Zac Guildford will miss the first four weeks of the Super 15 season following a string of incidents in the Cook Islands last month.

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) handed Guildford the suspension following a misconduct hearing into his alcohol-fuelled actions at Rarotonga which it believed was unprofessional and brought the game into disrepute.

The NZRU has also imposed other sanctions on Guildford including a requirement to undergo alcohol treatment and counselling at his own expense.

The ruling means Guildford will miss three February pre-season matches for the Crusaders against the Highlanders in Greymouth, the Hurricanes at Mangatainoka, and the Rebels in Melbourne as well as their first match for the Super 15 regular season against the Blues in Auckland on February 24.

He will be eligible for selection for the Crusaders week two fixture against the Highlanders in Dunedin, on March 3.

NZRU general manager professional rugby Neil Sorensen said that the NZRU and Guildford had agreed that professional treatment and counselling provided by external specialists would be an essential part of his rehabilitation.

Taking players out of rugby is not something we do lightly. But we have taken into account the fact that with regard to alcohol-related behaviour, Zac does not have an exemplary record, Sorensen said.

On this occasion, he embarrassed himself, his family, his teammates, and New Zea-land Rugby.

We believe Zac brought the game into disrepute and the sanctions reflect the gravity of the situation and the need for a real pathway to recovery.

To his credit, Zac himself has agreed that he needs assistance and recognises that both the NZRU and the Crusaders support him taking time to get himself right.

In a release put together by NZRU, Guildford acknowledged his behaviour had been unacceptable, and he was working to resolve his issues.

I am embarrassed by what has happened, but I know that I let down the many people who support me. I am focussed on getting myself into the place I need to be when I return to rugby next year, Guildford said.