Super Rugby
Former All Blacks winger Zac Guildford spiralled out of control after death of father
ESPN Staff
December 10, 2015
Zac Guildford© Phil Walter/Getty Images

Zac Guildford is confident he has beaten his battle with alcohol, saying he is "over it to tell you the truth ... over making those same mistakes that I make".

The former New Zealand All Blacks winger, who has signed a one-year deal to play for New South Wales Waratahs in the 2016 Super Rugby tournament, has featured in a number of unsavoury alcohol-related incidents through his career but says "now I can just put little steps in place".

"I can't say that I'll never ever drink again, but for the moment I'm pretty happy not [drinking]," Guildford said in an exclusive interview with

Guildford said also that he began drinking heavily as a schoolboy but it spiralled out of control after the death of his father from a heart attack while watching him play for New Zealand in the 2009 Junior World Championship final in Tokyo. Guildford scored two tries in the championship game against England, but he never got the chance to celebrate with his father and the winger accepts he "used that for an excuse [for his drinking] for a long time".

"I need to make my dad proud now and play some awesome rugby, and do well off the field," Guildford told "And by doing that it'll bring a whole lot of peace to him upstairs and also the rest of my family."

Guildford's problems with alcohol saw him cut by the Crusaders in 2014, after he had signed a two-year contract with French Top 14 club Clermont, but he is now back in Super Rugby, via Hawke's Bay Magpies in the ITM Cup, having failed to settle in France.

"I loved the way Super Rugby's played when I was in France," Guildford said. "I missed it. I used to watch it all the time and say 'this is how you play rugby boys', but the French never listened. But I missed this style of rugby and to have the opportunity here I'm really grateful for."

Guildford signed his Waratahs contract in September but he told that he "had a few external voices ... saying 'I don't think Sydney is a good place for you, you're just running away again' ... and I also had a few other Super Rugby teams that were kind of interested".

He committed to the 2014 Super Rugby champions only after Gibson had travelled to New Zealand to meet him personally, the winger saying the coach had "showed me that he wanted me as a rugby player and ... also that he actually cared about me outside of rugby".

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