Former Wallaby puts boot into Michael Cheika

Head Coach of Australia, Michael Cheika. Photo / Getty
Head Coach of Australia, Michael Cheika. Photo / Getty

​All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has downplayed the bullying comments that riled Michael Cheika in June, saying "it wasn't meant to be personal".

But while Hansen attempted to play peacemaker, another recent coaching rival has heaped pressure on Cheika by suggesting the Wallabies coach and his coaching staff will come "under the blowtorch" if they follow up a whitewash defeat to England by losing to New Zealand.

Former Wallaby Glen Ella, who served as an assistant coach with Eddie Jones' England during June, wrote in an online column the weekend's poor Super Rugby results showed Australian teams had lost their skills and those saying the domestic form wouldn't translate to Test level this winter are deluded.

"I wish I could believe in their enthusiasm and hope I'm proven wrong but they are kidding themselves," Ella wrote on the sportsta website.

"I watched the Brumbies, Reds, Rebels and Tahs against their New Zealand counterparts and could only admire the Kiwis' basic skills, urgency and tactical nous that seem to have deserted our teams down under.

"We lack players with the basic skills to compete against the All Blacks. Basic skills like catch and pass, kicking, offloading, set piece play, tackling, running into space and the list goes on."

Ella said he held grave fears for the upcoming contest for the Bledisloe Cup, which the Wallabies haven't held since he was an assistant coach of the team with Jones in 2002.

"There are lots of kids out there that have grown up thinking of the Wallabies winning the Bledisloe Cup like a fairy tale, a good story but nothing to believe in," Ella wrote.

"He (Cheika) must be pulling his hair out, or what hair he has left of it after the English whitewash, with the inconsistencies of his tight five, what the loose forwards combination will be, the backline, and where he will play Falou (sic).

"I'm glad it's not me selecting the next test team because if the Wallabies put up another subpar performance against the All Blacks, not only will he be coming under the blow torch but the rest of the coaching team will as well."

Hansen was conciliatory in a New Zealand radio interview when asked about the comments suggesting Jones had bullied Cheika in the media in June, and that it had carried onto the field.

Cheika fired back by saying Hansen's comments were "shallow" and that it is "easy to kick blokes when they're down".

"It wasn't directed at Michael, I just thought that Eddie had dominated him a wee bit in the media and he took it quite personal," Hansen told​ ​NZ radio.

"It wasn't meant to be personal."

Hansen agreed with Cory Jane and Daryl Gibson by saying he didn't believe Australia's form in Super Rugby would translate to the Rugby Championship.

"History tells you it doesn't matter where you finish in Super Rugby, it's how you come together as a national team," he said.

"Australia, I think, will field a very, very strong side, they'll be hurting after their 3-0 loss to England and they'll be competitive."


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