Australia coach Dwayne Nestor has given no guarantee suspended Queensland prop Liz Patu will keep the Wallaroos captaincy in the wake of her biting suspension.
Patu was banned for six matches on Monday night after pleading guilty to biting WA lock and Wallaroos teammate Rebecca Clough in their Super W clash at Suncorp Stadium last week.
The suspension was initially set at 12 weeks but Patu was given a 50 per cent discount for a good record and “previous good character”.
Though it matched in length the last biting suspension handed down in Super Rugby - to Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman in 2018 - the ban was still deemed too light by some.
But the punishment may yet extend further than a six-match standown, which can be served in Super W and club rugby.
Patu is almost certain to be part of the Wallaroos campaign this winter, which features two Tests against Japan and another two against New Zealand, but Nestor said she would not automatically retain the captaincy.
The Wallaroos coach said he was always planning to review the leadership structure and the extent of Patu’s role would be discussed among his staff when they gather in camp ahead of the first Japan Test in July.
"That’s something for the (Wallaroos) staff to decide. She is going to be held accountable to the Wallaroos squad as well, for these actions, at some stage, because she has done something outside our standards,” Nestor told RUGBY.com.au.
"It will be a discussion we have amongst the staff to decide what level of leadership she has within the group.
"We have a plan in place where we are actually going to build a leadership group over the new few years before the World Cup, so we would have re-assessed the captaincy in any case. And we will continue to do so over the next few years.
"Basically what we want to do is build a team where we can purely pick on form and then have a number of girls who we can call on to be captain.”
Nestor said Patu’s moment of madness came as a huge shock to him, and believes it was firmly out of character.
"I was obviously surprised because in my dealings with her since the 2017 at World Cup, I wouldn’t think she would do that,” Nestor said.
"She is tough player, she plays really hard but I have never seen anything before where she would have played dirty. So for me it was out of character.
"She is embarrassed and really remorseful about it. She really can’t believe that she did it.
"But the other thing is she is entirely willing to take accountability and she has accepted six weeks and she knows she has to do that time.”
Patu apologised to Clough after the game and sent another message later, Nestor said.
He said he doesn’t anticipate there'll be a need for a “clear the air” session when they become teammates again later this year.
"It’s fairly well done now. I have had a couple of chats with Bec after Saturday night and from what I can see has done this really well,” Nestor said.
"She said "Liz has apologised and sent me a message, telling me how sorry she was”. She said: “As far as I am concerned it’s done, we just let the judicial process play out.” They will be fine. They’re two mature-enough girls to move on.”