Rugby: Cheika says he took no pleasure watching the All Blacks lose

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika. Photo / Photosport
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika. Photo / Photosport

Michael Cheika says he took no pleasure watching the All Blacks lose to Ireland last weekend despite his tempestuous relationship with the Kiwis.

After New Zealand defeated Australia on October 22 to set a new record for most successive wins by a tier-one Test nation (18), Cheika suggested the All Blacks had persuaded a local newspaper to depict him as a clown, while Kiwi coach Steve Hansen shot back by denying the claim and telling Cheika he needed to learn not to take things to heart.

Against that backdrop, it would have been understandable if Cheika did a little fist-pump after Ireland produced one of rugby's greatest upsets by beating the All Blacks 40-29 in Chicago, their first win over the Kiwis in 111 years of trying.

But Cheika, who coached some of Ireland's players during his stint as boss of Leinster, said he always backs neighbours over northerners.

"Obviously I've got a strong connection with Ireland, I know that we've got a strong competitive nature against New Zealand as well but I'm southern hemisphere," Cheika said.

"I like the southern hemisphere teams to do well. I know in the bigger picture of things it's a lot harder down there. All the money in the rugby is up here, players are consistently coming up here. So we've got to try and be the best we can at the footy.

"There's some guys in the Irish team that I coached and I've had a long association with.

They've played very well and deserved the victory. I think there's no issue there. But it's not like I'm getting pleasure out of seeing [the All Blacks lose].

"The only time I like seeing our opponents lose is when we're playing against them. It's not relevant to me otherwise.

"I'm not the type of guy who's going to be watching two other teams play in my comp, whether it's international or domestic, and start cheering for one team or the other.

"The only team I'm cheering for is Australia. The rest is me of interest watching. I'm not trying to take pleasure in watching another team lose.

"I would like to think that that's not happening to us. It probably is I suppose. I don't want to have that attitude.

"From a global perspective, the southern hemisphere guys, we play against each other and we play hard against each other but then that's it. I don't want to death-ride teams."

Ireland's incredible performance also underscores how difficult it will be for the Wallabies to claim their first Grand Slam in 32 years.

Australia needs to defeat Scotland this weekend, then Ireland in Dublin and England in London to claim the historic feat.

But after Ireland's fierce showing against the All Blacks, and England's 3-0 series sweep over the Wallabies in Australia earlier this year, the odds are stacked against them.

- news.com.au

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