The Herald's Aussie cartoonist Rod Emmerson has hit back at Wallabies coach Michael Cheika's furious outburst after the All Blacks record-winning win on Saturday.
"Cheika may be pissed at the artwork, but he'll be even more pissed when he realises I am Australian, and his cousin dated my sister," Emmerson said.
Cheika was still seething last night after being portrayed as an angry clown complete with red nose in a mock-up picture in the country's biggest paper, the New Zealand Herald, alongside the headline "send in the clowns" on the match morning.
Veteran cartoonist Emmerson revealed he was given advance warning on the story, and the idea was to "needle" Cheika a pinch before the game.
"That's what I did. It could have been seen as reverse psychology, hoping it would fire the Wallabies up somewhat to break the curse of Eden Park. Instead, it got under his skin."
Emmerson explained his cartoon was partly in response to the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph portraying Richie McCaw as a witchetty grub on its front page, less than a week before the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.
"It is satire and nothing more," Emmerson said. "And a bit of payback for Witchetty Ritchie.
"It was a bit of a friendly shot across the bow - except this took out the mast and sails instead. Oops.
"The Wallabies are upset with the embarrassment of losing the game for starters. But to throw their weight behind having a go at the artwork is a mistake and was perhaps to create a diversion from the real problem."
In Sydney yesterday, Cheika refused to be gagged, not backing down after All Blacks coach Steve Hansen accused his Wallabies counterpart of "hijacking" New Zealand's test world record celebrations.
In a sensational aftermath to Saturday night's 37-10 All Blacks victory in Auckland, Cheika took aim at the New Zealand media over being depicted as a clown and then claimed the All Blacks did not respect the Wallabies, suggesting they were involved in the media caricature.
Hansen later said Cheika needed to be bigger than to take a newspaper's barb to heart and said it was wrong to suggest the All Blacks could dictate what the media did.
But Cheika was still stewing upon his arrival back at Sydney airport 12 hours later.
"Why would you let the opposition call your team clowns and mock the jersey? That's how I feel about it," he said. "Maybe others don't. Maybe that's not the way. But I've never had an Australian jersey so I think it's something that should be treasured.
"We're going there for a good contest and I think they [All Blacks] are connected to it [the photo mock-up] obviously because they are talking about it.
"That's my opinion and I'm entitled to voice my opinion, right or wrong."
Meanwhile, media around the world was quick to pick up on the extraordinary "Clowngate" row after Australia's loss to the All Blacks.
British newspapers the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail carried reports on All Blacks coach Hansen accusing Wallabies counterpart Cheika of "hijacking" New Zealand's world record celebrations.
Australian outlets Fox Sports and ABC News Online also waded in with prominent coverage of the spectacular post-game stoush.
ABC described Cheika as being "seething at being dressed up as a red-nosed clown in the New Zealand Herald on the morning of the match".