No longer grey areas in preparation: James Horwill
November 20, 2013
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Greg Growden and Russ Barwick discuss the fallout from Dublin

James Horwill supports Ewen McKenzie's decision to ban six Test players, dismissing fears the heavy punishment will cause rifts in the team.

McKenzie has both commended and criticised alike for his decision to hand one-Test bans on the "Dublin Six", who went out drinking into the early hours of Wednesday morning before playing against Ireland at the weekend. Nine others were put on notice for also staying out on the town after separate team dinners.

McKenzie has since also implemented an official midnight curfew and a booze ban on the weekly Tuesday gathering, having said previously that he made it clear to players they were expected to return home from dinner by 12pm and not indulge in more than two glasses of wine.

Rugby Union Players Association officials doubt such protocols were in place, however, and are they investigating with RUPA chief Greg Harris labelling McKenzie's hard-line stance, designed to improve team culture, as "very harsh" and illogical. "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 said. "It is hard to hand down penalties when there have not been any guidelines set in the first place."

Horwill, who served as Queensland Reds captain under McKenzie for four seasons, and who is on the RUPA board as a players' representative, denies he has issues with the coach's strong actions. The 46-Test lock said that players had to make better decisions and they now knew there were no grey areas when it comes to preparation and behaviour.

"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.

Horwill said the matter was not treated in an "off-the-cuff" manner, and players now understood what was acceptable.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill will miss the Test against Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Saturday, while Paddy Ryan will sit out the tour finale against Wales as Australia have only five props in the tour squad and must field four props in a Test squad under International Rugby Board regulations.


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