Six Australian rugby players have been stood down for this weekend's clash with Scotland and a further nine have been sanctioned over a booze binge in Dublin last week ahead of their victory over Ireland.
Nick Cummins, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill will not play at Murrayfield this weekend, while Paddy Ryan will serve his ban next week against Wales a week later, because the Wallabies are required to have four props on the bench.
Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga'a, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps were handed written sanctions, while Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and Nic White were reprimanded verbally but will be available for the Scottish game.
While there is no alcohol ban in place and no curfew, the players are expected to behave on the week of a big game.
The incident occurred last Tuesday night when players formed into groups and went out to dinner in Dublin ahead of a day off on Wednesday and according to Australian head coach Ewen McKenzie had consumed "inappropriate levels of alcohol".
“The Qantas Wallabies, in conjunction with the ARU, have decided to take significant action in a quest to drive the highest standards off the field,” 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. 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.
“We will always take action in relation to examples of poor culture when it’s warranted doing nothing to address poor behaviour will never be an option. We’ve taken on the challenge of re-defining our team culture.
“This is not a simple process but it needs to happen so we can have a chance to be the best team we can be. Already this year we’ve spent a lot of time being crystal clear around behaviours to ensure we are in a position to take the step-up to the next level.
“The reality is that if we are going to reach these levels, the players need to be making the right decisions as professional athletes and need to do everything possible to perform at their best for each Test.
“We also need to recognise the players who are doing the right thing and ensure our behaviours are in-line with the expectations of our stakeholders and our fan base.”
McKenzie said the sanctions also wouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor performance against Scotland at Murrayfield.
“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 with 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.”
Ewen McKenzie is facing a selection crisis for the Scottish game with Tevita Kuridrani who was sent-off in Australia's 32-15 win over Ireland on Saturday due to face an International Rugby Board disciplinary hearing in London tomorrow iver his tip tackle on Tommy Bowe.
SUSPENDED FOR SCOTLAND TEST
SUSPENDED FOR WALES TEST
By Cormac Byrne