NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is leaning on experience gleaned from a family tragedy with alcoholism to help troubled ex-All Black Zac Guildford re-launch his Super Rugby career in Sydney.
Guildford, who has a history of alcohol-related issues, admits drinking remained a problem after he cut short a stint with French club Clermont and returned to New Zealand this year. The 26-year-old accepts his contract with the Waratahs represents a final opportunity and has vowed to stay off alcohol.
“This is the last chance saloon for me and if I stuff it up, it’s game over,” Guildford told New Zealand’s TV One, acknowledging he was an alcoholic.
“I’ve had so many problems with alcohol. Look, I’ve still made mistakes this year to be honest. I don’t blame anyone else but myself.”
Guildford linked up with the Waratahs last week as they began pre-season training. Gibson said he had been one of the side’s best trainers so far.
“The pleasing thing is Zac is trying to be a better man, to make better choices,” Gibson said on Tuesday.
“In terms of rules and so forth it is a bit like a pre-nuptial, Zac knows very clearly of the boundaries we have set for him, making sure that he protects the team at all times.
“He is very aware of that and so far he has been brilliant.”
Gibson was encouraged by Guildford’s honesty.
“He has made a bold, courageous statement that he wants to stay away from the drink,” Gibson said.