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Zac Guildford says he’s learned his lesson

Friday 13 January 2012 | Published in Regional

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All Blacks wing Zac Guildford says he has learnt his lesson after hitting rock bottom in the Cook Islands and does not want to repeat the same mistakes again.

In a press conference in New Zealand, Guildford said he understood he would most likely loose his New Zealand Rugby Union contract if he ever behaved like he did in Rarotonga in November.

At the time, the 22-year-old made international headlines for his behaviour during a wayward, alcohol-fuelled night that included a naked, wet and bleeding Guildford assaulting two men at Trader Jacks.

New Zealand press yesterday reported that Guildford was visibly nervous, but a little playful while speaking to the media at Invercargills Rugby Park Stadium.

The Crusader, who has been suspended for three pre-season matches and one Super League match, said he had definitely learnt his lesson and that it was time to grow up.

I think I have (learnt my lesson), Guildford said.

Its a pretty tough lesson to learn, but I think you have to hit rock bottom to bounce back up. I dont want to make any mistakes again...

I didnt realise how high profile I was and that I was in the spotlight so much.

I just thought I could do the things my mates did and what Id always done at school.

Guildford said he was trying to improve himself as a person and was looking forward to being able to play rugby again after the difficult end to 2011.

I was right down in the dumps and I didnt know where I was going or what I was doing there for a while, he said.

(But) I think being in this environment will improve me as a person.

Aside from imposing a four-week suspension on Guildford for his actions in Rarotonga, the NZRU also included a requirement to undergo alcohol treatment and counselling at his own expense as part of their disciplinary measures.

Guildford has sworn off drinking alcohol for the duration of the Crusaders Super Rugby campaign, but said it would be difficult because of his history of drinking.

I think itll be pretty tough because I havent gone a whole year without drinking before, but well see, Guildford said.

I dont want to make the same mistakes Ive made in the past. I just want to be a good rugby player and a good person.

Fairfax New Zealand reporters said Guildford had been nervous about his treatment by the public, but that the winger said it had been largely positive.

And the reporters said the fallen star had still kept his sense of humour after Novembers events.

When asked what his non-alcoholic drink of choice was, he replied: If Ive had a feed then I like to drink Coke Zero, but if Im just kicking about then Im happy with the old Pump (water) bottle. Actually, I better say the Richie McCaw water because hes my captain and I want to play this season.

Guildford is currently training with the Crusaders, but in a limited capacity due to a niggling groin injury.

He expects he would be fit by the time his suspension is over and ready for selection in the Crusaders second round match for the regular season.