Australia head coach Michael Cheika has said that Neil Francis needs to choose his words more carefully in the future.
A day after David Pocock had starred as Australia defeated Ireland in the first of their three summer tests, Francis, writing in his Sunday Independent column, described the backrow as a "cancer" due to his ability to pilfer possession.
"I think David Pocock is a cancer on the game," opined Francis.
"Yes, I do have a grudging admiration for all his abilities and it is great when you have a player like that in your side... he had six legal turnovers and three illegal turnovers, and he and his buddy Michael Hooper managed to slow the ball down more than enough to stop rhythm that Ireland looked like they were beginning to achieve."
Francis is a figure with whom Cheika is certainly familiar. The Australian spent five years as head coach at Leinster, winning the Heineken Cup in 2009. During that season, Francis described Cheika's side as "ladyboys".
"That guy needs to choose his words a little better I think, to be honest," Cheika is quoted as saying by Rugby.com.au.
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 that just as the criticism doesn't bother him, neither will it affect Pocock. He believes that the 30-year-old has skills beyond the ruck for which he does not receive enough credit.
"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.
"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."
Picture credit: Sportsfile