Australia ban six players for drinking before Ireland game

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Interview - Australia lock James Horwill

Australia have suspended six players for one match and warned nine more for drinking in midweek before Saturday's win over Ireland.

Wallabies coach Ewan McKenzie acted after "a group of players made the decision to stay out late and consume inappropriate levels of alcohol".

He said Australia's "ethical conduct" standards had been compromised.

The banned six are Adam Ashley Cooper, Nick Cummins, Liam Gill, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Paddy Ryan.

Winger Cummins was among the try scorers in the 32-15 win over Ireland and fellow wing Ashley Cooper was also in the starting XV. Prop Ryan came off the bench with 15 minutes remaining while hooker Polota-Nau, prop Robinson and flanker Gill were unused replacements.

Apart from Ryan, they will all miss Saturday's game against Scotland.

International Rugby Board regulations state that a team's 23-man match squad must contain four props, so tight-head Ryan will serve his suspension in the game against Wales in a fortnight.

Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga'a, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps received written warnings after the night out, which stretched into the early hours of Wednesday morning, while Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and Nic White were given verbal reprimands.

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It is the latest in a number of alcohol-related indiscretions involving Australia players.

In September, versatile back James O'Connor was escorted out of Perth airport by police while allegedly intoxicated and is now playing for London Irish after losing his contract with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).

Kurtley Beale, who missed the current tour because of injury, was suspended earlier this year after an alcohol-fuelled dispute with Melbourne Rebels team-mates and has since undergone counselling for alcohol-related problems.

Quade Cooper, who recently returned to the international fold after being ostracised for 11 months under former coach Robbie Deans having described the environment in the Australia camp as "toxic", was also involved in a late-night incident with Beale at a hotel in June 2012 which led to an ARU investigation.

McKenzie was keen to stress there was nothing "inappropriate or sinister" about last week's night out.

The Wallabies boss added: "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."

McKenzie is aware the bans will leave his team short of options against Scotland at Murrayfield, but he believes a tough stance is necessary to send out a message.

"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.

"I am disappointed on a personal level, but firm action is the best outcome when presented with a scenario like this.

"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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