Horwill dismisses fallout fears
Tue, 19 Nov 2013 19:18
That's what the head coach is there to do
Former captain James Horwill is confident there won’t be any rifts in the Wallaby squad following coach Ewen McKenzie’s decision to ban six players.
McKenzie handed one-match suspensions to six players who went out drinking into the early hours of last Wednesday morning in Dublin prior to the weekend’s Test.
Australia won the match 32-15, but McKenzie proceeded to lay down the law and issued warnings to nine other players who stayed out past team curfew.
McKenzie said he had made it clear prior to the incident that players were to have no more than two glasses of wine and were expected back from dinner by 12pm.
He has now imposed a booze ban on such outings and has both been praised and criticised for his actions.
Former Wallaby skipper George Gregan, who on Monday was inducted into the Hall of Fame, backed McKenzie while Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) boss Greg Harris said he’s stance was "very harsh".
According to Harris, several players were not aware of any provisions.
"I have spoken to a number of the players and they are adamant there was no provisions about how much they could drink and there wasn't a curfew," Harris told AAP.
"It is hard to hand down penalties when there have not been any guidelines set in the first place."
Horwill, who serves as a players’ representative on the RUPA board, has come out in support of his former Reds mentor.
"Ewen has made the decision based on what he feels is best for the team and that's what the head coach is there to do," Horwill said.
"He makes tough decisions and that's the reality of the position.”
The 46-Test lock added: "Guys have made decisions and they're being judge on those decisions.”
Utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper is one of the so-called "Dublin Six". The 90-Test veteran's mother Karen says he’s upset about being branded a boozer when his punishment was largely for staying out beyond 1am.
Nevertheless, Ashley-Cooper will, along with Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill, miss the weekend’s Test against Scotland, while Paddy Ryan will serve his one-match ban when Australia play Wales next weekend.
Horwill suggested that instead of causing possibe rifts in the squad, McKenzie’s stance would have a unifying effect as players now know exactly what is expected of them under their new coach.
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