By 3 News online staff
All Black winger Zac Guildford has voluntarily stood down from the Crusaders rugby side after a late-night incident involving alcohol.
The incident took place at a private house party in Christchurch last weekend, and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) says it has launched misconduct proceedings against Guildford.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said he was “disappointed to learn of this incident”, but has declined to comment further.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder told Firstline this morning this latest incident could be the end of his career with the side.
"We've taken the view… that is very possible," says Blackadder, who declined to comment on the nature of the incident.
"To be fair to Zac and the process I can't actually say too much. All I can say is it's obviously a very serious incident, serious enough for there to be a misconduct [process].
"I can't actually say too much more than that otherwise that will certainly jeopardise the process."
It is not the first time Guildford, 23, has been suspended from the Crusaders for alcohol-related off-field incidents.
In one high-profile incident in November 2011, a drunk, naked and bleeding Guildford rampaged through a Rarotonga bar and assaulted two patrons.
At the time, the NZRU suspended him for four matches and sent him to counselling for an alcohol problem, and Guildford said he was swearing off alcohol to save his career.
But last month Guildford said he was ending a year-long period of abstinence, claiming that treatment had made him a more responsible drinker.
"I think it's made me a better person. I've learnt a lot. Obviously it would have been better if I wasn't in that situation but as I said, we all make mistakes but it is how you deal with them," he said.
Guildford told his coach about the latest incident on Monday last week, before informing the NZRU.
"Obviously he was distraught, he was very emotional and said he's disappointed," says Blackadder. "When you know Zac, when things are on track he's a great man, and he's a good boy, but when things aren't on track… I could feel his embarrassment and his shame.
"A really disappointing week and really disappointing for Zac and the fact he'd been given so many opportunities and we're back to square one."
He says Guildford needs professional help.
"Zac really needs some professional help, because everything that's happened in the past simply hasn't worked… He's got himself back on track, but not to the point where he's making better choices and last weekend obviously was a really poor choice, to the point where this could really jeopardise his future within the game."