Six Australia players have sensationally been stood down for staying out all night drinking, while a further nine have been sanctioned but not banned.
Nick Cummins, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill will play no part in the Wallabies’ game against Scotland next weekend, while Paddy Ryan will serve his ban in Cardiff, due to Australia needing four props in the squad at Murrayfield.
Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga’a, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps were given written sanctions, while Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and Nic White were verbally reprimanded.
The team had apparently been out for dinner in groups in Dublin the Tuesday before the Ireland game, ahead of a day-off on Wednesday. They were then sanctioned after going out in town after the dinner and coming home late, having consumed “inappropriate levels of alcohol”, coach Ewen McKenzie said.
“Let’s be clear – these are internal sanctions and aren’t a result of any complaints or reports of inappropriate or sinister behaviour while our players were out,” he said. “Instead, we have chosen to address an issue that has come up internally and we are now being up-front about it.
“We’ve done this because we need to continually reinforce the need for our players to make smart decisions to benefit the team. The worst thing you could do for the Qantas Wallabies in the long-term is do nothing, because that would mean we would be ignoring poor culture and a significant performance issue.”
It will cause McKenzie an unwelcome selection dilemma, with both his starting wingers now out, and another outside back, Tevita Kuridrani, facing a disciplinary hearing this week for an alleged tip tackle on Peter O’Mahoney.
McKenzie was keen to point out that he would not to use the suspended players as an excuse should Australia perform badly at Murrayfield on Saturday.
“There is no doubt having talented players unavailable will put this team under significant pressure but we won’t be using this situation as an excuse,” he said. “For us, this is a great opportunity to circle the wagons and re-calibrate our behaviours to get back on track off the field.
“I am disappointed on a personal level, but firm action is the best outcome when presented ith a scenario like this. You need to deal with issues to ensure everyone can be accountable for their actions.
“The players involved have accepted the outcomes and we’ll concentrate on moving on and making the best of the situation. Our entire focus remains on beating Scotland.”
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images