All Blacks: The calculation behind Michael Cheika's rant

Far from being a "maniac" who lost his cool, one observer believes there was plenty of calculation behind Michael Cheika's post-game rant.

The Wallabies coach stole most the headlines after the All Blacks' Bledisloe Cup victory at Eden Park and Saturday night, disappointed with the referee and particularly aggrieved with a Weekend Herald caricature that portrayed him as a clown.

Cheika accused the All Blacks of working in co-operation with the Herald in publishing the cartoon, comments which led Steve Hansen to tell his counterpart to "stop whining".

But Daily Telegraph rugby expert Iain Payten, who regularly covers Cheika for the Sydney-based newspaper, told NZ Herald Focus the coach was a complicated figure.

"He's a hard chap to fully put your finger on," Payten said. "He's red-blooded and he mostly tells it how he sees it.

And he's the first to admit that he can fly off the handle every now and then.

"Getting to the point about his emotional outbursts, that's something that the players watch and observe, and you'd be surprised how many of them say they really get something out of that, when he goes into bat for the team or the jersey or the country.

"He's not the maniac that people think - there's a bit of strategy behind that."

The front page that earned Michael Cheika's ire.
The front page that earned Michael Cheika's ire.

Payten said while Cheika was clearly upset about the cartoon in question, the feeling among Wallabies fans was more one of bemusement. He also felt Cheika's reaction would have been more satisfying to those supporters than what had happened after previous defeats against the All Blacks.

"I don't think it's a huge deal, I think it's probably just reflective more of Michael Cheika's feisty personality," Payten said of the cartoon.

"The Wallabies have had a couple of years of meekly rolling out of another Bledisloe series and saying, 'We'll get better next year'.

"Cheika's trying to instil a bit of fire in his team and that's the way he knows how."

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