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McKenzie won't tolerate bad behaviour

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Sportal.co.nz     06 Aug 2013     Getty Images

James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale's 3am visit to a fast-food outlet in the lead-up to the second British and Irish Lions Test angered several senior players and raised questions over former coach Robbie Deans' ability to control his young stars.

McKenzie will put his 40 possible Wallabies through their paces in Sydney this week before settling on his 30-man Investec Rugby Championship squad on Friday ahead of Bledisloe I on Saturday week.

The new mentor says he will set clear behavioural guidelines in place but believes the vast majority of his players already do the right thing.

"There's been a lot of talk around this and in the end there's been some instances [of bad off-field behaviour], but I don't want to think there's big problem here," McKenzie said from the Wallabies hotel in Sydney on Monday.

"Ninety-five percent of the players are doing the right thing every minute of every day so let's not get bogged down it.

"We'll make it very clear what's in and what's out, what's acceptable and what isn't and I'll manage that process with the team manager.

"In the end we'll make it clear but I expect that's not going to be an issue."

James Horwill refused to be drawn on whether senior players have spoken to O'Connor about his behaviour throughout the Lions series after he was also late for training prior to the third Test.

But the skipper, who says his players are excited to make a 'fresh start' under McKenzie, made it clear further off-field indiscretions will not be tolerated.

"I think they [O'Connor and Beale] understand that's not what's acceptable being a part of the Australian team and we've got to make sure that that's clear and as long as we make that clear everyone understands where they stand, not just for those individuals but for everyone," Horwill said.

"Once you know where you stand and if you go away from that then that brings you into a place that you probably don't want to be, so that's something that we will make pretty clear - and have made pretty clear."

Meanwhile, McKenzie praised the Brumbies' efforts in Saturday's 27-22 Super Rugby loss to the Chiefs.

Jake White's side were stranded in Auckland overnight after their flight to Canberra was cancelled, meaning their Wallabies contingent will report to camp a day late on Tuesday.

"It's been complicated, their plane broke down so they had to stay overnight in Auckland so that's something we've been in constant communication, I literally just got off the phone to Jake," McKenzie said.

"In the end that's the way the calendar is, the reward for being in the Super Rugby final is you don't get much of a break and that's what happened and that's just the way it is.

"We've tweaked today a little bit around the fact that they were there so I'm accommodating in that sense and it hasn't compromised what we wanted to do.

"We recognise and reward them, we don't want to penalise them for being in the final but at the same time we've got business to attend to."