Mowen hits out at Wallabies
Sydney - Forget a studs-first raking at the back of a ruck or a big hit in midfield, there is very little that can hurt an Australian rugby forward more than the accusation that he has betrayed his mates.
Wallabies captain Ben Mowen is clearly no exception to that rule and he reacted angrily on Wednesday to allegations he had reported his team mate's involvement in a late night drinking session to coach Ewen McKenzie in Dublin last year.
The breach of discipline on Australia's end of season tour of Europe led McKenzie to suspend six Wallabies for one match and hand written warnings to nine others.
The incident was revived this week when it was suggested in some newspapers that rifts between the Test players resulting from the tour would spice up this week's Super Rugby clash between Brumbies and the Waratahs.
McKenzie waded into the row on Monday when he contacted Australian newspapers to state categorically that no player had "dobbed in" any of their team mates, specifically naming Brumbies captain Mowen and hooker Stephen Moore.
Despite the Dublin incident and being without five players banned for the match by McKenzie, Australia managed to beat Scotland in Edinburgh before rounding out their tour with a victory over Six Nations champions Wales.
That successful conclusion to the season, loose forward Mowen said on Wednesday, would have been impossible if there had been a rift in the squad.
"I'm very disappointed that my character has been questioned publicly when I think over a long period of time I've proven what type of bloke I am," Mowen told the Canberra Times.
"It doesn't sit well with me at all. You can't fake team unity, you can't beat Wales in Cardiff in the final game of a five-week tour if you don't have the basis of mateship.
"You can't do it, mateship was the basis of why we went so well."
Moore had already brushed aside the row in typically phlegmatic fashion on Tuesday, agreeing with reporters that it was probably somebody just trying to stir things up ahead of the Waratahs match.
"That's the way it is in rugby, you take the good with the bad," he said.
"A lot of it's false, as it always is. It's unfortunate that it's come up again this week, but personally it's not been an issue for me."
Eight Waratahs were among the players disciplined in Europe but they too have been playing down talks of a rift this week.
"Regardless of previous issues, or so-called previous issues, when you come up against another province in Australia it is always a game you want to win," prop Benn Robinson, one of the players stood down for the Scotland game, told reporters on Tuesday.