Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Wallabies suspend six players

Adam Ashley-Cooper, one of six Australia players suspended by coach Ewen McKenzie over a late night drinking session.

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has suspended six members of his squad ahead of Saturday's meeting with Scotland after they were involved in a late-night drinking session.

Wingers Adam Ashley Cooper and Nick Cummins as well as forwards Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill have all been stood down from the final Autumn international at Murrayfield.

A sixth player - Paddy Ryan - will serve his suspension in Australia's final Spring Tour clash against Wales while nine other players have been "sanctioned" for breaching team rules ahead of the 32-15 victory over Ireland at the weekend.

Wallabies boss McKenzie has come down hard on his men after they went out drinking on Tuesday night.

"Everyone in our squad is required to comply with and adhere to high standards of ethical conduct both on and off the field," McKenzie said.

"Those standards were compromised in the lead-up to Saturday's victory over Ireland with a group of players making the decision to stay out late and consume inappropriate levels of alcohol during the early hours of Wednesday morning."

Following a review of each individual case, the Australian Rugby Union say McKenzie has handed down varying degrees of punishments from a one-game suspension to written or verbal warnings.

In their statement, they say that the "level of punishment has been determined by the severity of the infraction for each individual and was also based on the expectations of players preparing for the Ireland Test as part of the 23-man match day squad".

Ryan's delayed suspension is due to IRB regulations requiring each match-day squad to contain at least four props. With only five props chosen in Australia's 32-man touring squad, either Robinson or Ryan is required to participate in each of the upcoming Tests against Scotland and Wales.

Written warnings were also handed to Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga'a, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps, while Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and Nic White were told verbally that their behaviour was not up to standard.

But McKenzie stressed his action was not the result of complaints made by members of the public.

"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," he 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 news will come as a boost to Scott Johnson's team after their 28-0 drubbing at the hands of South Africa on Sunday.

But McKenzie said the sanctions will not be used as an excuse for a poor performance against the Dark Blues in Edinburgh.

"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."

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