Australia

Wallabies’ boozing days behind them

Tue, 04 Feb 2014 16:31
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I'm confident to say it will never happen again
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Wallaby utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper insists there will be no more alcohol-related controversies in the Australian camp this year.

Australia’s on-field woes were compounded by off-field incidents last year, the most infamous of which leading to Ashley-Cooper and five of his teammates being stood down following a booze binge prior to the 32-12 win over Ireland in November.

Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan and Liam Gill were all suspended for one match by coach Ewen McKenzie, while Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Faingaa, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and Nic White were all sanctioned.

The embarrassing incident affected the players involved and their families, with Ashley-Cooper’s mother Karen particularly upset that he'd been portrayed as a boozer when his main offense was returning to the team hotel after 1am.

She told Brisbane radio station Triple M at the time: "These players are now being made an example of, but because Adam's the most senior player, they're coming down on him the hardest.

"So he's missing a game for not upholding the behavioural and cultural standards of an elite athlete representing the Wallabies.

"Now he said he'll cop it and move forward but… he's really upset because they are claiming excessive and inappropriate alcohol intake by him, and alcohol was not the problem. It was the time he got home.

"I do think it's a tough call…Look, I can understand the curfew thing, I understand they have a code of conduct and I am not condoning what they've done.

"But I am really, really upset that they are saying it was excessive and inappropriate alcohol. I know most of those guys, those guys do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol while representing their country, least of all Adam.

"And they always conduct themselves professionally while they're playing for their country…How many other times has Adam and these other guys actually been pulled up for this kind of conduct? Never."

Reflecting on the incident, a philosophical Ashley-Cooper told AAP: "I guess you've got to use any type of experience like that as a learning experience.

"Not only from a professional point of view, but from a life point of view as well.

"Now that there's clarity and there's actual guidelines around what we can and what we can't do, then I'm confident to say it will never happen again."

Ashley-Cooper said he’s not sure where Waratahs coach Michael Cheika will decide to play him this season after spending most of the 2013 Super Rugby campaign in the No.13 jersey.

"With the mix of players this year, It's really hard to say where 'Cheik' wants me to play, but I suspect somewhere in that midfield, 12 or 13," he said.

"But with the calibre of players and the different type of combinations that we can play with and experiment with, I wouldn't expect to be just limited to the midfield, I think I might have a little bit of experience in the back three as well."

Ashley-Cooper will make his return in Friday’s trial against the Blues in Sydney and admitted Rugby League convert Benji Marshall is a bit of an enigma. "With the level of uncertainty and unpredictability he becomes quite a threat," he said.

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