'We played 75 without him in the last test, and we'll do 80 this week'
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper says the three players banned for breaking the team’s alcohol protocols have already taken steps to win back the trust of the group.
Star winger Marika Koroibete and strike forwards Isi Naisarani and Pone Fa’amausili were made unavailable for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup opener in Auckland after consuming alcohol for more than two hours after curfew last week.
Koroibete’s loss will particularly hurt the Wallabies as they attempt to end a 35-year hoodoo at Eden Park.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said there was a big chunk of the squad that were angry over the trio’s actions, with senior players alerting team management of the breach.
Hooper said the breach was disappointing, but he’s liked what he’s seen from the trio since then.
“We’ve spoken a lot about what it’s going to take to beat this All Blacks team, and the decisions that were made [to keep drinking] never aligned with that,” Hooper said.
“You can judge a lot by people’s actions and their actions have been superb since that [punishment] began.
“They’ve been training hard and doing their own thing at times as well to get back into the shape they need to do play.
“We’ve had conversations within the group. We’ve moved forward with it. That’s all we can do.
“People will make mistakes, we understand that and move on.”
An investigation on the Aussie men's 7s team has concluded following complaints over their behaviour in Tokyo and on their flight home https://t.co/UU6y7ngLas
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 5, 2021
Koroibete was also in the headlines last month when he received a red card in the fifth minute of the Wallabies’ series-deciding win over France.
World Rugby later dismissed the red card in a move that freed up Koroibete to play in the Bledisloe opener.
However, his decision to break the team’s protocols have ended those hopes.
“He had a really strong French series. He was one of our best last year,” Rennie said.
“But we played 75 without him in the last test, and we’ll do 80 this week.
“They’re good men who have made a poor decision. They’re paying the price.
“They’re working hard to earn the trust and respect. They’ll show that through their behaviours, and they’ve made a good start.”
– Justin Chadwick
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