Ewen McKenzie has "made an example" of Adam Ashley-Cooper because of his seniority, the 90-Test Wallabies back's mother, Karen, told a Brisbane radio on Tuesday.
Ashley-Cooper is among six Wallabies players suspended for one Test after staying out late and drinking last Tuesday night in Dublin, with 15 players in total disciplined for breaking team protocols by failing to return to the team hotel by midnight on the eve of their training-free day.
McKenzie said that he was particularly disappointed that the likes of Ashley-Cooper and fellow veterans Benn Robinson and Tatafu Polota-Nau had failed to lead by example on the night, but Ashley-Cooper's mother said that he was upset he'd been painted as a boozer when his main crime was returning to the team hotel after 1am.
"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," Mrs Ashley-Cooper told Triple M. "So he's missing a game for not upholding the behavioural and cultural standards of an elite athlete representing the Wallabies.
"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."
Mrs Ashley-Cooper said that her son admitted he had several beers with team-mates but hadn't drunk excessively.
McKenzie said the players were aware they needed be back in their hotel by midnight, even without an official curfew for the tour. In judging each case, the coach said punishments were decided based on the lateness of their return, the amount of alcohol they had consumed, and the level of their involvement in the Ireland Test match that weekend, which Australia won 32-15.
McKenzie also said that players were permitted to have a glass or two of alcohol with their Tuesday night dinner, which is usually held together as full group.
In a break from routine in Dublin, four groups of around eight players were allowed to choose their own restaurants.
Former Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell, who is close friends with Ashley-Cooper, showed his disdain for the bans on his Twitter account.
The saddest thing is that some players think drinking a few beers is worse for the culture than texting shit behind their teammates backs— Drew Mitchell (@drew_mitchell) November 18, 2013
I bet the Welsh are hoping a few more go on the beer this week http://t.co/qHKVobIOno - seems a little crazy? they all played well & won?— Will Carling (@willcarling) November 18, 2013
But another ex-Wallabies winger, Ben Tune, was full of praise for McKenzie's hard-line stance.
And THAT is why Link is the best man to mould these young wallabies into a world class team. #standards— Ben Tune (@ben_tune) November 18, 2013