TV

The redemption of former All Black Zac Guildford on Celebrity Treasure Island

His reputation preceded him, but he proved to be a gentle, humble man.

On Monday former All Black Zac Guildford was the first to be eliminated from Celebrity Treasure Island.
And while his time on the reality TV show was short, it was long enough for us all to see that he is a different man to the one who, eight years ago, dominated sports headlines with a drunk and naked incident in a Rarotongan bar.
Most of the stories that followed documented his troubles with alcohol and struggles with mental health. His international rugby career crumbled and at his lowest point he returned to New Zealand from France to live with his grandparents.
But there was sympathy for him too. In 2011 the then NZRU general manager Neil Sorensen explained to media that Zac had recently lost his father.
Zac Guildford walks towards his fate at the elimination challenge against Matty McLean.
And in the two episodes that he has appeared in what we do see is a "good young man". A man who is quietly spoken and who will happily give up his bed for another. He is deeply proud of his cousin with Down Syndrome.
When Sam Wallace refused to give Karl his bed after the other team members told Karl he could have first pick (for being left tied to a pole) it was Zac who offered him his bed instead.
And then when Sam sidelined Zac with the question 'have you ever been in prison?' he was nothing but gracious.
"No, bro, I'm not that bad," he replied. "A few times in my younger days in the holding cells but never actually prison."
Later to camera he confided, "The general public sort of judge me on, I guess, the mistakes I made a few years ago. You see a lot on social media about the Raratonga incident.
"When I first started playing rugby I was not very self aware at all but you learn a lot about yourself. I guess it made me into the person I am today."
Zac opens up about his own struggles with mental health when Karl announces he is leaving the island to focus on his mental health.
"The things he said and what he's going through now, I've definitely felt before so I could relate to that," he reveals.
And Zac speaks with great pride about his cousin with Down Syndrome. The charity he was playing for is UpsideDowns Education Trust, an organisation that supports people with Down Syndrome.
"I've got a cousin with Down Syndrome and his name's Nestor, he's well into his teenage years now and he's grown up to be a fine young man," he says.
"I'm really proud of what he's become today."
While Zac's stay on the island was brief, it gave us new insight into the former All Black.
Despite what happened in the past, or perhaps because of it, he is a "good young man".
Celebrity Treasure Island airs on Sundays at 7pm and on Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm, on TVNZ 2.*