The two players were seen having pictures taken with fans at 4am outside a fast food restaurant in Melbourne, as reported the Daily Mail. They had earlier watched the Rebels’ game against the Lions, and attended a post match function for players.
Beale’s issues with alcohol are well-documented, and O’Connor is another of the infamous ‘Three Amigos’ (the other being Quade Cooper) who have grown an unwanted reputation for getting into trouble.
It is believed, however, after interviewing the players and several witnesses, that neither of them were drinking at the time. An ARU statement said that the situation was ‘not ideal’.
“There has been a full and thorough investigation of the information,” said an ARU spokesman. “The two players were out last night, but they were not drinking – 10 witnesses we have spoken to corroborated that. The players went to the Rebels v Lions game with their team-mates and after the game they went back to a function at a club, with other Rebels guys. Lions players were there as well. After leaving, they stopped off to pick up some food on the way home and had pictures taken with some fans.”
He added, “Both players are adamant that they didn’t drink and we have checked that out thoroughly. James O’Connor was driving. They have not broken any team protocols. These players have done nothing wrong. Within the team protocols, they are expected to behave responsibly and show common sense but there are no curfews in place.”
It is believed both players have now been cleared of any wrongdoing, but it is still an unwelcome distraction ahead of the vital second test this Saturday. Given the injury problems in the Australian backline, both Beale and O’Connor look likely to start, and this early morning jaunt will not have impressed coach Robbie Deans, who will need all his players to be well rested and in peak physical condition ahead of the game.