Saturday 20 January 2018

New Zealand boss Steve Hansen launches astonishing attack on Michael Cheika

Steve Hansen has accused Michael Cheika of allowing himself to be bullied
Steve Hansen has accused Michael Cheika of allowing himself to be bullied

Duncan Bech

Australia's misery at their series defeat by England has intensified after head coach Michael Cheika was accused of allowing Eddie Jones to "bully him".

New Zealand's World Cup-winning boss Steve Hansen launched the attack in response to the Wallabies' series defeat with a match to spare following losses in Brisbane and Melbourne.

A feature of the first two matches was Cheika's refusal to engage in the phoney war, while Jones repeatedly used the media to land psychological blows on Australia, their team and coach.

Jones even took on the host broadcaster and won, forcing them to issue an apology after he objected to a vulgar line of questioning from one of their pundits at a press conference.

His former Randwick team-mate, however, has refused to return fire and Hansen believes that has weakened Australia on the pitch.

"Cheika's not come back, he's letting Eddie have a free rein - to the point where it actually seems like he's letting Eddie bully him in the media," Hansen said.

"I don't know if that's because they know each other that well, or if there's a pecking order from the old days. That's gone on to the park, hasn't it?"

The final Test is staged at Sydney's Allianz Stadium on Saturday when Australia will seek to salvage some pride while England go in search of a glorious series whitewash.

When asked if he had won the mind games battle with Cheika, Jones replied: "I haven't tried to win a war of words. I am the coach, you guys ask me questions, I give you answers.

"And then you guys decide whether it is mind games or whether I am being a bully or whether I am trying to be clever of whether I am just an idiot.

"You decide that, not me. I just try to answer the questions truthfully and honestly."

Jones is in little doubt over Hansen's motive for a remark that is sure to antagonise Cheika.

"Steve has got the Rugby Championship coming up," he said.

Press Association

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