Former Ireland international Neil Francis' description of Wallaby flanker David Pocock as a ''cancer on the game'' has drawn an angry response from coach Michael Cheika.

Francis, writing for The Independent in Ireland, questioned the legality of the star flanker's breakdown work during the 18-9 first test loss to Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.

"I think David Pocock is a cancer on the game," he wrote.

Francis said Pocock had six legal turnovers and three illegal turnovers, and he and Michael Hooper slowed the ball down affecting Ireland's rhythm.

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Cheika told rugby.co.au that Francis needed to choose his words a little better.

"It's not a very nice thing to say. I'm not worried about what he thinks about Poey's footy, I just think that's not a very nice term to use.

"There's people who are really sick out there. I'm not into that.

"He used to say a lot of stuff about us when I coached Leinster as well. Some unflattering words he would use for his own publicity. That's fine."

Cheika said the 30-year-old would take it in his stride.

"He'll wear it, he's a tough guy. I think it's been a bit overblown.

"He's just going to rucks and trying to make tackles and get up. That's football, that's rugby.

"I don't know why it's such a big deal. He's working real hard, he's got great work ethic, he's tough, he can take a battering and he can keep getting up.

"I don't see why it's a big deal, he's doing what he does, that's his contribution to the footy team."

Pocock is watched closely at the ruck, particularly under the laws introduced late last year, but Cheika said his star flanker was more than a one-trick pony.

"It's usually the combination of how the opposition team plays and how that lets him get into the game sometimes and sometimes it's not as open for him," he said.

"But he's got a lot of other skills apart from just the ruck.

"That's good, everyone should just keep watching him at the ruck and they'll forget about the other good stuff he does on the field.

"He carried some good balls last week, distributed the ball well a couple of times, his support play.

"He's had a good entry back into the team but he's got improvements still to go for sure."