England full-back Mike Brown insists that Australia flanker Michael Hooper’s suspension for a foul on him in last week’s pivotal World Cup defeat at Twickenham has come too late.
Hooper escaped with only conceding a penalty during the Wallabies’ 33-13 win, which condemned England to a group stage exit, but was cited for the crunching charge and yesterday handed a one-week ban.
That means he will miss Australia’s clash with Wales on Saturday, which will determine who tops Pool A, although that is of little consolation to England and Brown.
The Harlequins player appeared in danger of missing the World Cup after suffering concussion in February during the Six Nations, and only returned to training in June.
“I’ve taken an accidental shoulder to the head before with bad consequences so how am I going to react to one done on purpose?!” Brown wrote on Twitter.
“And I have no interest in him getting banned after and had nothing to do with it before that chat starts! Should of [sic] been dealt with by referee and his assistant at the time both stood 2 metres away looking at it.”
Australia could replace Hooper with Sean McMahon or Ben McCalman, who both scored two tries in the 65-3 mauling of Uruguay earlier in the group.
“We have got a squad of 31 and that’s the reason you have a squad of 31,” said Australia assistant coach Stephen Larkham.
“We have a couple of excellent players waiting for their chance. Ben McCalman and Sean McMahon have both played really well in the tournament.
“In saying that Michael has been tremendous so far, and in fact the games before the tournament he was the standout as well. It is hard to replace someone like that, but the guys are certainly ready to go.
“McMahon, McCalman have put their hands up in this tournament. We may have to chop and change. Sean could slot in at 7, or Ben can go to 8 and [David] Pocock at 7.”