The psychological warfare between the All Blacks and the Wallabies is going right down to the wire with former Australian matchwinner Mark Ella claiming Steve Hansen resents Michael Cheika's coaching success.
Writing a provocative column in national newspaper The Australian, Ella questioned whether Hansen was jealous that he had not lost the Coach of the Year gong at the World Rugby awards to Cheika and also claimed the jury is out on how good Hansen is - saying "Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks to victory".
"I wonder if Hansen is secretly resentful of Cheika," said Ella, a star first five for Australia in the 1980s.
Ella pointed out that it was Hansen who had started "a war of words" with his rival coach as soon as he touched down in Sydney for the Bledisloe Cup encounter to be played out tonight.
Hansen chided Cheika for commenting on the selection headaches the All Blacks coach faces since the retirements of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.
"Mind your own business was Hansen's veiled threat to Cheika," summed up Ella.
"If you think about it, Hansen guided the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup glory in England last year, becoming the first team to win the tournament back to back, which was no easy task.
"And yet who was bestowed the honour of World Rugby's coach of the year?
"Surely it must have rankled a proud man like Hansen to see Cheika lauded as the world's best coach after what he had achieved with the All Blacks, and even I can understand if there is some animosity between the two, who are not slow in venting their opinions and obvious frustrations."
Ella took his theory further by suggesting the coach of the year issue "also helped explain why Eddie Jones went out of his way to needle Cheika during the England series in June".
"Jones guided Japan to one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history when they defeated the Springboks. Maybe he though he - not Cheika - should be coach of the year, because after all, vanity is within all of us."
"As England whitewashed the Wallabies in the three-test series, Hansen saw an opportunity to politely kick Cheika while he was down, claiming he had allowed Jones to bully him in the media."
Ella claimed Cheika is "fighting back" and urged him to not let Hansen and Jones "push him around".
"Coaches like Jones and Hansen have been around for a long time and are ruthless and will do whatever it takes to win," he wrote.
"The coach of the year award is like a target on Cheika's forehead and there is not much that he can do about it right now other than to remain focused to ensure Wallabies success in 2016."
Ella also suggested Hansen is "peeved" at the Wallabies stealing of the All Blacks' skills and kicking coach Mick Byrne, saying it has rubbed the New Zealander "up the wrong way".
"Hansen is also under a bit of pressure because critics have questioned just how good a coach he is. Without attempting to be condescending Mickey Mouse could probably coach the All Blacks to victory, such is the discipline and strength of the current New Zealand squad."
"And now Hansen is without Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and 800-odd Test caps of experience.
"The All Blacks of 2015 could pretty well coach themselves, but now Hansen has to guide them into a new era, which will be the ultimate test of his coaching ability.
"And who better to start testing yourself against then the coach of the year?"