<
>

Michael Cheika refuses to back down after Bledisloe clown rant

Michael Cheika will not be gagged, refusing to back down on Sunday after All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had accused his Wallabies counterpart of "hijacking" New Zealand's Test world record celebrations.

In a sensational aftermath to Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup series finale in Auckland, Cheika took aim at the New Zealand media after being depicted as a clown and then claimed the All Blacks did not respect the Wallabies, suggesting they were involved in the media caricature.

Seething after being portrayed on the match morning as an angry clown complete with red nose in a cartoon headlined "send in the clowns" in the country's biggest-selling newspaper, the New Zealand Herald, Cheika let rip in an extraordinary rant after Australia's 37-10 loss at Eden Park.

Hansen said later that Cheika needed to be bigger than to take a newspaper's barb to heart, and said it was wrong to suggest the All Blacks could dictate what the media did.

But Cheika was still stewing upon his arrival back at Sydney airport 12 hours later.

"Why would you let the opposition call your team clowns and mock the jersey," he said.

"That's how I feel about it.

"Maybe others don't. Maybe that's not the way. But I've never had an Australian jersey so I think it's something that should be treasured.

"We're going there for a good contest and I think [the All Blacks] are connected to [the caricature] obviously because they are talking about it. "That's my opinion and I'm entitled to voice my opinion, right or wrong."

Cheika was also upset that he did not receive an invitation into the triumphant dressing room after the All Blacks chalked up their unprecedented 18th consecutive tier-one Test match win.

He said that the Sydney bugging saga had been the spark that had set him off, saying he was deeply offended by any inference the Wallabies camp had been in any way involved in the scandal.

Cheika remains furious the bugging report came out on the day of the first Bledisloe Test match in Sydney, after All Blacks management had alerted police about finding an electronic listening device in a team room early in the week.

"I don't want to keep going over the same points, but that [NZ Herald] is obviously their go-to paper," Cheika said on Sunday.

"The whole bug thing came out from there.

"We had policemen in our offices asking us questions, asking our management questions. That's serious stuff to be accusing people of, and it's not true.

"That's their go-to. Nothing happens without that connection.

"That's my point of view. They don't have to agree with it. I'm not asking them to agree with it."