ANDY POWELL’s involvement in the RBS Six Nations is effectively over after Wales reacted to his charge for drink driving by dropping him from their squad.
In a move that places a question mark over his Test future under head coach Warren Gatland, the Welsh management have suspended Powell for “behaviour contrary to the squad’s code of conduct”.
Powell was arrested on Sunday morning with a golf buggy at a motorway services, the morning after Wales had completed a dramatic 31-24 comeback win against Scotland at the Millennium Stadium.
South Wales Police said he was charged with “driving a mechanically propelled vehicle whilst unfit through drink”.
A court date of March 2 has been set, giving Powell time to reflect on an incident that has had damaging repercussions for international career.
Wales have acted decisively in removing the 28-year-old from their 35-man squad with team manager Alan Phillips admitting his behaviour was unacceptable and setting no date for his return.
“We take matters of player conduct extremely seriously and have been happy with the professionalism and discipline of this squad in general terms,” said Phillips.
“Andy knows he has misbehaved and is apologetic, but he also knows that he must take responsibility for his own actions and accept the repercussions.
“This kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated in a professional, elite sporting environment and we have acted quickly and incisively in order to leave no ambiguity over the dim view we take of this situation.”
Wales’ decision to take a hard-line stance against Powell’s misconduct will have been simplified by his disappointing form so far this Six Nations.
The Cardiff Blue has been playing out of position at blindside flanker to accommodate Ryan Jones at number eight and has struggled to adapt.
Gatland must now decide whether to start with Sam Warburton, whose ability to play six or seven makes him useful on the bench, or move Jonathan Thomas to blindside flanker.
Should Gatland take the second option, Bradley Davies, Ian Gough or Luke Charteris will be in contention to fill Thomas’ spot in the second row.
Mike Burton, Powell’s agent said the player was “very sorry and embarrassed about what happened”.
Meanwhile, frustrated Mark Cueto says England are always damned if they do and damned if they don’t against Italy.
The Sale Sharks winger was not hiding from the fact that England must improve markedly if they are to beat Ireland at Twickenham.
But Cueto stressed that however critical the post-mortem of Sunday’s 17-12 victory, the bottom line is that England remain one of only two unbeaten teams in the championship.
Cueto said: “You are in a no-win situation against Italy. If you win like we did here everyone is booing as you come off and expects you to win by more. If you win by more everyone says ‘no disrespect, but it is only Italy’.
“We have won the game, we are two from two which is where we want to be. The bottom line is we got a win.”
Johnson’s most frequent complaint during his 18-month tenure has been England’s lack of execution, a failure to maximise their opportunities.
That seemed to have been cured to an extent in the win over Wales — but Tait admitted England have a great deal of work to do before Ireland arrive in town or they will be punished heavily.
“We know we’re going to get fewer chances than that against Ireland and we have to make sure we take them.”
Scotland coach Andy Robinson is facing a Herculean task to rebuild Scotland’s campaign following the shattering loss of three key players.
Scotland will head to Rome — scene of their last Six Nations away win almost four years ago — next week without the entire back-three unit that started Saturday’s dramatic 31-24 loss against Wales.
Wing Thom Evans remains in a Cardiff hospital after undergoing neck surgery, where full-back Chris Paterson joined him on Saturday night due to kidney damage.
And Scotland team doctor James Robson has confirmed wing Rory Lamont’s knee ligament injury means he will follow Evans and Paterson in missing the rest of this season’s tournament.
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