The Wallabies' preparations for Saturday's Test against England have been thrown into turmoil after it emerged Adam Ashley-Cooper and Kurtley Beale were axed after breaking team rules.
- Adam Ashley-Cooper and Kurtley Beale invited three women into their hotel room after the defeat against Wales
- The Wallabies leadership group alerted coach Michael Cheika to the incident
- Cheika axed the two from the team to face England at Twickenham on Saturday for discipline reasons after first claiming the pair's absence was due to form
The incident happened at the squad's Cardiff hotel following the 9-6 defeat to Wales at the Principality Stadium when the pair invited three women back to their room.
The women were known by the pair, with one of them Ashley-Cooper's sister-in-law, but team rules stipulate guests are not allowed into players' rooms.
Coach Michael Cheika said the pair had made "an error of judgement" and it cost them their place in the team.
The team's leadership group, led by skipper Michael Hooper, informed Cheika of what happened this Tuesday and asked him to take appropriate action.
Cheika insisted it was a minor incident and said the players understood they were in the wrong and confirmed Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle had been informed about the situation.
"The leadership team came to me … I thought I needed to take action," Cheika said.
"Whether in this instance it was a family member or whatever it is, doesn't matter, that's the rule.
"It's a minor thing that's in the team code. I spoke to the boss about it and she understands that it's like punctuality, curfew or any of those things within a team."
For Beale, the omission is likely to hurt twice as much, with the Wallabies wearing the special Indigenous jersey for the just the second time, a jersey Beale — as one of just 14 Indigenous Wallabies — had a big input to over its design.
Cheika had tried to keep the situation under wraps, saying on Thursday Beale had been left out due to form reasons.
"I said that he's [Beale] been in and out of form this year, which is totally true and he has been," he said.
"His form hasn't been golden whatsoever. He was on the bench last week and I considered leaving him out last week.
"On the field this year we have been inconsistent because we have take a shortcut here or there.
"I feel a little bit for the guys that it is out in the public. But they've done nothing to hurt anybody else.
"They've let their teammates down in this instance, for sure, and that's where it should lay but I understand that's not the world we live in anymore."
Despite Chieka's attempts to downplay the incident, it is another negative headline for the Wallabies, generated by two of his most experienced players in a year where the team have won just four of 12 games.
Ashley-Cooper had returned to the Wallabies squad for the first time in two years for the spring tour, with Cheika hoping to cash in on the veteran's experience as the former Warratah looks to edge his way into contention for World Cup selection.
Beale and Ashley-Cooper have 83 and 117 caps respectively and, as senior members of the squad, Hooper said approaching Cheika about the situation was one of the most difficult moments of his captaincy.
"It's extremely hard. There's no way around it," Hooper said.
"We're all mates wanting to see each other do the best but the team comes first, and being genuine.
"That's the direction we've got to go, these small steps to putting the team first are going to have a great outcome in the end."
To compound Australia's woes ahead of their season finale against a side who are looking to chalk up a record sixth straight win over Cheika's team, David Pocock has been ruled out through injury.
The talismanic back-rower failed a late fitness test on the neck problem he sustained in Italy last week and his place will be taken by Pete Samu, with Marika Koroibete moving on to the bench.