MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australia coach Robbie Deans is keeping the backlash in-house after his playmakers James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale stayed out until 4 a.m. only days before a vital test against the British and Irish Lions.

A photograph of O'Connor and Beale with a Lions fan in a fast-food outlet in the early hours of Wednesday was published in an English newspaper after the pair watched their Super Rugby team, the Melbourne Rebels, lose 35-0 to the Lions.

Hours after confirming they'd start at flyhalf and fullback for Australia on Saturday in Melbourne, Deans tried to keep a lid on his reaction.

"That's not an ideal hour. We've had conversations for sure," said Deans, whose contract as Wallabies coach is on the line in this series. "It's not best practice in terms of sleeping habits. They were keen to catch up with their club mates. But I'm sure the senior playing group will be considering whether we need to make it more difficult."

O'Connor and Beale's behavior overshadowed preparations for the must-win test against the Lions, and only days after the pair missed five goals between them in the 23-21 loss in the first test.

Deans said he didn't consider standing either player down for the Melbourne test.

"No, no. They haven't broken any team protocols as such," he said. "It's not ideal. I won't be alone in (saying) that.

"They understand that it was too late for them to get to bed."

The Australian Rugby Union had earlier tried to defuse the story by saying the players did nothing wrong.

"Both players are adamant that they didn't drink and we have checked that out thoroughly," a team spokesman was quoted as saying. "James O'Connor was driving. They have not broken any team protocols. Wednesday (was) a day off for the squad and there were no commitments until late afternoon."

Regardless of the guidelines, Deans is confident that he made his expectations clear when he spoke to the players.

"Suffice to say, it wasn't a comfortable conversation," he said, declining to elaborate on the specifics.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, who recovered from a shoulder injury to take his starting spot at outside center, said the Wallabies didn't have time to dwell on O'Connor and Beale's night out.

"We're too far into our preparations to let that be a distraction for us," the 78-test veteran said. "Collectively, we're too focussed on getting results."

Beale, who missed two shots at goal in the last five minutes that could have sealed a win for Australia in Brisbane, has spent time undergoing counseling for alcohol-related incidents this season. Deans brought him back into the squad for the Lions series despite a lack of match practice, and is confident his young utility back will be stronger for his recent setbacks on and off the field.

The Lions can clinch their first series win since 1997 with a victory in Melbourne this week, while Australia can take it to a deciding match in Sydney on July 6 with a win.