Wed, May 21, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Australian players may lose their place on teams


Prospective Australian test players for the Rugby World Cup face exile from the team for off-field indiscretions, Australian Rugby Union managing director John O'Neill said Tuesday.

Last week, Matt Dunning, who is yet to play for the Wallabies, broke the nose of New South Wales Waratahs teammate Des Tuiavii following an end-of-season drinking party.

The New South Wales Rugby Union disciplinary committee is investigating the incident and is expected to make a decision on any action by the end of this week. Wallabies flanker George Smith is also under police investigation after an incident in late March outside a Canberra nightclub which left a student with some facial injuries.

"I don't think anyone could pretend the sort of publicity generated is what the ARU wants or seeks," O'Neill told New Zealand Press Association.

"The Wallabies enjoy a fantastically good reputation and there's too much invested in that good name to allow individuals to drag it down."

O'Neill said off-field behavior was a delicate issue but "in the event a player behaved consistently poorly and it's not in the best interests of rugby then you'd have to consider dropping them on disciplinary grounds."

Former Wallaby David Campese said the incidents involving Smith and Dunning were worrying.

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