Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor pictured in burger bar at 4am
The Australian Rugby Union have defended two of their leading players, James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale, were pictured out in Melbourne in the early hours of this morning - just three days before the crucial second Test against the British and Irish Lions.
Beale and O'Connor had their pictured taken with fans at a fast-food joint at 3.50am on Wednesday, having earlier attended the game between the Melbourne Rebels and the Lions at AAMI Park, and a post-match function with players from both teams.
Beale, who missed two late penalties that could have snatched a late victory for the Wallabies in the first Test, and O'Connor are both Rebels players.
An ARU statement revealed that neither had been drinking or broken any protocols.
The statement said: "There has been a full and thorough investigation of the information. 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.
"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."
Beale has recently been treated for alcoholism following a fight with two team mates on a trip to South Africa.
It is understood there will be no further disciplinary action against either player, both of whom will be named in the Australia side on Thursday to face the Lions.
However, the distraction and the potential fall-out from the story will not be welcomed by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans as he begins the final preparations for the second Test, with the series, and potentially his job, on the line.