Brisbane - Senior Wallabies continued to back Kurtley Beale on Monday despite more revelations about offensive text messages which led to team business manager Di Patston resigning.
A day after captain Michael Hooper said he hoped Beale would not be sacked for distributing offensive material via text message related to Patston, vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper came out strongly in support of the troubled star.
Ashley-Cooper, in line to play his 100th Test against the All Blacks in Brisbane on Saturday, said he was feeling for his close friend who had been "doing it tough" since the Australian Rugby Union began two investigations into his off-field behaviour.
"The situation is sensitive and I can't talk about it too much but because he is a good friend of mine I'd love for him to stay within Australian rugby union," Ashley-Cooper told reporters.
"One, because he is a good bloke, and two, because he is an extremely talented football player."
Beale faces an ARU code of conduct hearing this week, with his future in serious doubt following the publication Monday of the text messages between him and Patston, which are the subject of investigation.
The texts, leaked to News Corporation newspapers, indicate Beale begged for forgiveness from Patston after he inadvertently sent her two crude and humiliating text message pictures in June.
A distressed Patston then forgave Beale at a face-to-face meeting, agreeing to give him a second chance and not reveal the texts to coach Ewen McKenzie or the Australian Rugby Union.Ashley-Cooper said he remained in touch with his NSW Waratahs teammate, who has been stood down indefinitely by the ARU.
"It's been a tough week for him," he said. "But I have spoken to Kurtley a number of times and he's hanging in there.
"He's doing well and he's staying positive, which pleases me.
"I'm feeling for Kurtley. I'm feeling for a mate. I'm feeling for a team-mate and I share those feelings on behalf of the rest of the team."
The fallout from the Beale-Patston drama has put McKenzie's coaching position under scrutiny at a time when his success rate has slumped to 52 percent from his 21 Tests in charge.
Ashley-Cooper said there was still strong support for McKenzie and he expected him to lead the Wallabies on next month's tour to Europe.
The utility back said the Wallabies team and staff held a positive meeting in Brisbane late Sunday when they all had a chance to air any problems.
"It's out of our hands - out of the coaches' hands, the ARU's hands and the players' hands - once we get to a conclusion we will take it from there," Ashley-Cooper said when asked whether the turmoil could become divisive if Beale was sacked.
"At the end of the day, it's important to understand that Kurtley is a teammate and you are always going to get behind a teammate. That's what you do. You unite.
"We stick together, that's coaching staff included - we are a team, we're one team. The last thing we want to do is see Kurtley leave the game."