Guildford cops four-week ban
ALL Blacks and Crusaders winger Zac Guildford will be suspended from the first four weeks of the rugby season, following a New Zealand Rugby Union misconduct hearing into incidents in the Cook Islands last month.
The misconduct hearing followed reports of Guildford's alcohol-related behaviour which the NZRU has deemed were unprofessional and brought the game into disrepute.
The suspension means Guildford is not able to play in the Crusaders' first three pre-season fixtures in February against the Highlanders in Greymouth, the Hurricanes at Mangatainoka, and against the Rebels in Australia, as well as the opening match of the Super 15 season, against the Blues at Auckland's Eden Park on 24 February 2012.
He will be eligible for selection for the Crusaders week two fixture against the Highlanders in Dunedin, on 3 March.
The NZRU has imposed a number of other sanctions on Guildford including a requirement to undergo alcohol treatment and counselling as directed at his own expense.
NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said that the NZRU and Guildford had agreed that professional treatment and counselling provided by external specialists was 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.
"On this occasion, he embarrassed himself, his family, his teammates, and New Zealand 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," Sorensen said.
Zac 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," he said.