Scotland captain Danny Brough has apologised for the drunken behaviour that cost him his place in the World Cup, Scotland Rugby League chairman Keith Hogg has said.
Huddersfield Giants half back Brough, who has led the Bravehearts in their last three World Cups, was sent home from the tournament along with team-mates Jonny Walker and Sam Brooks after they were too drunk to board a plane.
The three had carried on drinking into the night following Scotland’s 74-6 thrashing by New Zealand and were left behind in Christchurch as the rest of the squad flew to Brisbane to continue their World Cup campaign.
“It was obviously very disappointing that the three of them chose to continue drinking at a point in time when they clearly should have stopped,” Hogg said.
“It was not obvious until we got to the airport what the situation was but the airline had their rules and we completely supported them in their decision-making.
“It was something that developed very quickly but it’s important to stress that it was purely about the three of them. No members of the public were involved and there was no screaming and shouting, they had just chosen to drink too much.
“We sat down at the airport and convened a proper meeting and there was universal agreement that there was only one decision we could take. We believe in the right values and right behaviours and there is a tournament code of conduct that we support.
“They clearly took some time to react, for fairly obvious reasons, but it was very quickly clear that they were contrite.
“Certainly the best known of the three players was extremely apologetic when I talked to him on the phone last night. We’ve been in touch with them a lot and the World Cup team have provided tremendous support.”
Brough has been the mainstay of the Scotland team for a decade, leading them to the quarter-finals of the 2013 World Cup and a surprise 18-18 draw with New Zealand in the 2016 Four Nations Series, and won a record 24th cap in the opening game of the tournament against Tonga.
The Bravehearts, who went into the tournament without a host of experienced NRL players due to injury, have conceded 124 points in their two games so far but could still reach the quarter-finals with victory over Samoa in Cairns on Saturday.
The absence of Brough adds to the size of their task but Hogg insists spirits remain high in the camp. “Clearly the rest of the squad are disappointed, frustrated and probably a bit angry with the other three guys over what’s happened,” he added.
“But the other 21 players of the squad we have in Cairns are actually in good spirits. They have pulled together extremely well after the initial shock and they are very focused on giving their absolute best on Saturday.”