Nick Cummins is one of five Wallabies who will not play at Murrayfield this weekend. Photo: Getty Images
The Wallabies have sensationally stood down six players for their Test against Scotland and sanctioned a further nine for staying out late and drinking in Dublin last week.
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 in Cardiff, 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.
Stood down: Adam Ashley-Cooper. Photo: Getty Images
The extraordinary sanctions come after the team went out for dinner in groups on Tuesday night, ahead of their day off on Wednesday.
The sanctioned players went out in town after the dinner and came home late after consuming “inappropriate levels of alcohol”, coach Ewen McKenzie said.
There were no official complaints made and no incidents recorded. McKenzie said the players breached internal team protocols.
“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.”
The move will cause selection mayhem for McKenzie this week, with two of last week’s starting wingers now unavailable and a third mid-field back, Tevita Kuridrani, due to face an International Rugby Board disciplinary hearing in London on Tuesday.
McKenzie will be forced to use Joe Tomane and rookie back Chris Feauai-Sautia, and will run into further trouble if Kuridrani is suspended for a tip-tackle on Ireland No.6 Peter O’Mahony.
He will also have no choice in the front row and will be forced to use his four remaining props Sekope Kepu, Ben Alexander, James Slipper and Paddy Ryan, plus hookers Stephen Moore and Saia Fainga’a.
The Wallabies notched a convincing 32-15 win against Ireland on Saturday, with Ashley-Cooper and Cummins playing key roles in the team’s well-rounded performance.
Australia now goes into the fourth Test of their spring tour without five of the 23 players who played against Ireland.
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 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.”