Kangaroos players insist the dramas surrounding Billy Slater’s nightclub fight have not affected their preparations for this weekend’s Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals.
While talk over the incident continues to dominate the build-up to Saturday’s showdown with the US in Wrexham, members of Tim Sheens’ squad are keen to play down the controversy.
“Stuff like that can happen anywhere and it was just obviously unlucky and something that you don’t want anyone to go through,” winger Jarryd Hayne said.
“But I think for us, it is just about focusing on the game. We are a very professional outfit. We have already trained twice already (since the incident) and there has been no affect.
“We are here for a job. Obviously it was a distraction but for us we have focused.
“If you come in and watch us train you would never know the difference.”
Slater was arrested but later released without charge after exchanging blows with a 40-year-old Manchester man at 2.40am on Monday while out celebrating with his Kangaroos teammates.
Police say the Melbourne Storm star acted in self-defence and CCTV footage shows Slater throwing a fierce retaliatory punch after he was pushed in the face by the man.
Players did not want to comment directly on the incident on Tuesday but veteran forward Corey Parker commended Slater for his handling of the issue.
Slater addressed the media on Monday, describing the incident as a wake-up call for players and saying he was disappointed it had taken focus away from Australia’s unbeaten run to the quarter-finals.
While it’s unlikely Kangaroos officials will introduce an alcohol ban for players in the wake of the incident, there are suggestions they have been told to keep late socialising confined to the team hotel.
“Obviously internally there’s been some chat but I’m not going to go into detail there,” Parker said.
“… I think it’s unfortunate what happened the other night, that’s society in general.
“The fact is, it’s unfortunate it happened to one of us.
“It’s all been done and dusted. I thought Billy handled himself really well and as a group we’re happy to move on.”