England interim head coach Stuart Lancaster said he hoped Danny Care could return as a "world-class" player after dropping the scrumhalf from his Six Nations squad following fresh drinking controversy.
England's wretched World Cup campaign in New Zealand was compounded by a series of unsavoury alcohol-related incidents, including Mike Tindall's infamous night out in Queenstown.
Yet despite the tournament - which Care missed through injury - throwing a harsh spotlight on players' behaviour, the Harlequins number nine found himself involved in two drinking incidents in the space of three weeks.
Care was arrested and fined for being drunk and disorderly early on December 10, following Harlequins' European Cup defeat by Toulouse - an incident that saw him reprimanded by Lancaster.
But Lancaster, who has known Care since working with him at Leeds' academy, decided more severe punishment was required after Care was arrested for drink driving in the early hours of New Year's Day.
Care has been in superb form for Premiership leaders Harlequins and would have been included in Lancaster's squad for the Six Nations, due to be announced next week.
However Lancaster, appointed following Martin Johnson's post World Cup resignation, said he had no choice but to act as he did.
"He is hurting like I have never seen a player I have coached hurt before," said Lancaster, whose first game in charge will be when defending Six Nations champions England face Scotland at Murrayfield on February 4.
"But having said that, you can't condone what he has done. Irrespective of my personal relationship with him or irrespective of my desire to see him play for England and desire to coach him again, what he has done is unacceptable and he has to pay the consequences.
"There is no pleasure in any of this at all. Hopefully, it will give him the kickstart he needs to become what I believe will be world class."
Lancaster insisted he had not been trying to send a message to the rest of his squad by banning Care from the Six Nations.
"I have not done it as a big statement. The reason we did it is because there were two drink-related offences within three weeks, one of which is drink-driving.
"In the context of where we are, that is unacceptable behaviour in my book."
Many England fans were embarrassed by the squad's off-field behaviour and, as part of his bid to restore the team's reputation, Lancaster will take his squad for a pre-Six Nations training camp at the West Park Leeds lower league club in northern England, rather than their usual luxurious resort in Portugal.
"We have a situation where the reputation of young players in the country isn't great," Lancaster said.
"I think there is a perception out there and I know the players well enough to know they won't enjoy that perception.
"That's part of the reason we are going to a camp at a Yorkshire Two club.
"When Graham [Rowntree] and I turn up to our local junior club on a Sunday morning with our kids and we go in the clubhouse, we want them to think that the England team is a team they can associate with and be proud of."
Earlier, Care apologised by saying: "I do understand the need for England players to be role models in the game and have tried to live up to that at all times but have made a couple of stupid decisions in the past weeks.
"I can only hope for the chance in the future to prove those decisions were the exception not the rule. I am devastated because my actions have let so many people down."
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.