Wallabies coach Cheika rants after Bledisloe Cup defeat
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Volatile Wallabies coach Michael Cheika hit out at the All Blacks and the New Zealand news media after his team's 37-10 defeat on Saturday, revealing a deep-seated sense of grievance as Australia slumped to a seventh loss in 10 rugby tests this year.
Cheika chose not to congratulate New Zealand on its record 18th straight test win, and instead railed against the allegation the All Blacks' team room in a Sydney hotel was bugged before the first test between them in August.
He also complained bitterly about a cartoon on the front page of the New Zealand Herald newspaper before Saturday's match which depicted him as a clown. Cheika's final complaint was that the All Blacks didn't invite the Wallabies to join them for a beer after the third Bledisloe Cup match.
But he was unusually muted on the most contentious issue of Saturday's match: The decision of Welsh referee Nigel Owens to disallow a 45th minute try to Wallabies winger Michael Speight which would have tied the score at 15-15.
Owens took the advice of the video referee that Speight's fellow winger, Dane Haylett-Petty, obstructed All Blacks winger Julian Savea as he attempted to tackle Speight, though it seemed clear Savea had little chance of preventing the try.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen described the decision as a turning point in the match. New Zealand was leading 15-10 and, buoyed by the Wallabies' misfortune, went on to score three more tries in a convincing win. Hansen said the decision was justified because Haylett-Petty altered his running line to obstruct Savea.
Cheika was cautious in his response to the decision after previous warnings of his conduct towards referees.
"Obviously, I can't say anything because they've got you by the throat," he said. "But I've just never seen shepherding from behind before.
"Before any of that, though, we've got to own our mistakes. Before we start talking about the turning point and all that business because we can only call it a turning point if we lose by less than one score perhaps."
Cheika turned his anger on the All Blacks, indicating the allegation the hotel was bugged, which is being investigated by New South Wales police, soured relations between the teams.
"I would say the thing that got me offside was the accusation that we tried to bug them," Cheika said. "Really? Hello? Honestly?
"That showed a lack of respect. I wouldn't be smart enough to get that sort of stuff organized. I am too busy working on my own thing.
"They don't need to do that kind of stuff. It's only because they want to try to needle me or us or whatever. I wouldn't say we are friendly but, then again, you are not supposed to be friendly with the opposition, are you?"
Cheika then went on to decry the New Zealand Herald's cartoon depiction of him as a clown.
"I don't think they want my comment anyway," he said of the New Zealand media. "They don't.
"They dressed us up as clowns today so I don't think they would respect our comment. It was on the front page of the paper."