Australia are in turmoil after it emerged that Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper were not considered for selection against England on Saturday as punishment for bringing women into their hotel room in Cardiff.
The breach of team discipline occurred after the Wallabies had been defeated 9-6 by Wales on 10 November and has come to light on the day that talisman back row David Pocock had been ruled out of the Cook Cup showdown at Twickenham by a neck injury.
Beale and Ashley-Cooper invited three women back to their room and the matter was only brought to the attention of Michael Cheika this week when it was raised by senior players, who waited before informing the head coach.
Beale was expected to be involved against England and neither player has been sent home.
"It's a relatively minor team rule we have. No third parties are involved - it's just inside our team," Cheika said at Twickenham on Friday afternoon.
"The leadership group came to see me earlier in the week and asked me to deal with it in a way I thought was appropriate - and I thought this was the appropriate way.
"We have had an inconsistent season because we have often taken short cuts when we have needed to go harder and get to the well a little bit more.
"Although this was a minor thing, I felt that if you keep a grey area there then it gets bigger so I may as well make a stand on it and go from there."
Beale has 83 caps and Ashley-Cooper holds 117 and Cheika admitted his frustration that two experienced players had breached the rules as Australia seek to end a five-match losing run to England.
"Obviously there's disappointment - and they are disappointed too. It's a small error of judgement. It could be compared to not being on curfew or late for training," Cheika said.
"They are the small things we need to clamp down on. If we want to compete with the best, all the small short cuts have to be gone, on and off the field.
"Some might consider it a bit too harsh, the leaders showed a lot of courage coming to me to point it out because they want to set a standard here.
"The two of them were very apologetic, they realised their error and they have been trying to help the other players get ready for the game."
The news emerged shortly after defeat was conceded in Pocock's battle with a neck problem.
Pocock has been nursing the injury all season but it became more serious after taking a blow against Italy last weekend, making his involvement at Twickenham dependent on a fitness test he has failed.
The 30-year-old Brumbies number eight is the sport's most accomplished breakdown specialist and had been identified by England earlier in the week as the Wallabies' greatest threat. Pete Samu replaces him in the starting XV.
"He just couldn't get over it. He trained a bit on Thursday and his neck was really quite sore," Cheika said.
"He wanted another day, which obviously you'll afford to a guy like him because he knows his body better than anyone and had prepared better than anyone - but he couldn't overcome it.
"And there's a bit of me that is relieved he came to that conclusion because he'd been copping it. He's been getting smashed in there."
Cheika yesterday urged Twickenham to extend Eddie Jones' contract in reward for his achievements during his three years at England coach.
The Australia boss believes Jones deserves acclaim for delivering a Grand Slam, Six Nations title and world record-equalling run of 17 successive Tests victories amid an overall win ratio of almost 80 per cent.
Jones' contract expires in 2021, subject to a break clause dependent on performances at Japan 2019, and Cheika insists the terms should be improved after he steered England out of the mire in the wake of a dismal World Cup showing on these shores.
"Call me thick but I can't understand why he's been getting grief," said Cheika.
"How many games has he won here with England? What about the job he did after the World Cup? Maybe they're giving him grief because he's an Aussie.
"The team's ranked fourth in the world, playing lots of good footy, so I'm not sure what people are looking for. Perfection? That's never happening. You win some games, you lose some games.
"He's definitely won more games than he's lost so I'd be wrapping him up and signing him up for another four years."