Australia head coach Dave Rennie has taken action against three Wallabies players for breaching team rules on drinking.
Marika Koroibete, Pone Fa’amausili and Isi Naisarani have all been stood down for this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup match against rivals New Zealand, the match which precedes the Rugby Championship competition.
The Wallabies squad were allowed to relax in their team hotel in Auckland ahead of Saturday’s match at Eden Park, but the trio have been sanctioned for drinking two hours after the curfew imposed by Rennie.
Australia will take on the All Blacks after defeating France 2-1 in a three-Test series last month, and are looking to break a 35-year hoodoo at Eden Park.
“We’ve got a big squad here – 42 players. Thirty-nine understood the importance of getting together and getting connected and having a quiet beer and three guys lacked the discipline beyond that,” Rennie said on Wednesday.
“We’ve stated the importance of our preparation for the All Blacks. We all ne ed to be at our very best to try and force the All Blacks to be below their best.
“This obviously didn’t fit with their mindset so (we’re) incredibly disappointed and, to be honest, there’s a big chunk of that group who are pretty angry.”
Rennie said Koroibete, Naisarani and Fa’amausili had taken leftover alcohol from the team room.
“It’s not so much (about being) intoxicated. It was the fact that they continued drinking well beyond the time that was listed,” he said.
“Basically, we’d finished downstairs and the expectation was to call it a night. These three boys went upstairs and carried on (drinking). It was certainly more than two hours past curfew.”
Rennie made the announcement public three days after the protocol breach occurred, and said he had waited to deal with the issue but wanted to inform the press prior to Thursday’s team news release.
“You sweep this sort of thing under the carpet and it bites you on the backside later on,” he said.
“It’s a frustration for me personally because we’ve wasted a lot of time, obviously, dealing with the players.
“But, look, the squad is really resilient so we made it really, really clear when we made this announcement to the group on Monday.
“Everyone knew the consequences, everyone was supportive of that and we’ve got on and we’re focusing on what we need to do against the All Blacks.
“So it won’t have a detrimental effect on performance. If anything, it will galvanise us.”