Ahead of their inevitable defeat to Ireland at Soldier Field, New Zealand set a new world record of 18 successive international victories against Australia yesterday.
With fare on the field incredibly one-sided, most of the competitive sparks have been flying off the field, with the New Zealand media reveling in their global superiority like only they can. This confidence turns to a kind of schadenfreude when the Wallabies limp into town, and the front page of the Herald's sports section decided to deploy photoshop in poking fun at Michael Cheika.
— Tim Groves (@TimGrovesTV) October 22, 2016
Cheika addressed the issue following his side's 37-10 defeat to the All Blacks. He was asked by the assembled media to comment on New Zealand's record. Here's how he responded:
They dressed us up as clowns today. They put our crest on it, so they wouldn’t want our comment.
I don’t think they respect our comment, anyway, so we won’t make one.
Then things veered wildly off course, as Cheika went off on one regarding bugging allegations made by the All Blacks against the Wallabies ahead of a Rugby Championship clash in Sydney.
The thing that got me a bit offside was the accusation (before the first Test in Sydney in August) that we tried to bug them.
Like, really? Hello. Honestly? That’s what would cause that bad blood for me, that show of lack of respect.
I wouldn’t even be smart enough to get that stuff organised. I’m too busy working on my own team. They hold onto it, drop it on the day of the game. They don’t need to do that stuff. They’re too good anyway.
Cheika was apparently upset about not being invited to the New Zealand dressing room after the game.
Cheika then spoke to the media about 12 hours later at Sydney airport. Still upset:
Why would you let the opposition call your team clowns and mock the jersey? 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 they [All Blacks] are connected to it [the photo mock up] obviously because they are talking about it. That’s my opinion and I’m entitled to voice my opinion, right or wrong.
He also pointed to the All Black's relationship with the Herald:
I don’t want to keep going over the same points, but that [Herald] is obviously their go-to paper. 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 my point of view. They don’t have to agree with it. I’m not asking them to agree with it.
Steve Hansen, for his part, said that he will attempt to rebuild a frosty relationship, communicated through a couple of expert backhanders:
For a long time the relationship with Australia has probably been a little frosty and maybe we need to sit down and have a beer together and sort it out.
But I think some of it comes down to the fact that the Bledisloe Cup means so much to both teams and when one team’s having a dominant period like we’re at the moment, the other team really gets frustrated.
It’s how you deal with those frustrations and how you handle yourself when you’re winning, I guess, is important. This week we’ve tried to play a pretty straight bat and not tried to aggravate anyone. Our media didn’t help with the clown thing but that’s the media. It’s not us.
But at the same time you’ve got to look at your own history and your own backyard and there’s been plenty of people who’ve had a crack at McCaw and so forth.
I lost 10 Tests in a row with Wales and it was tough. Of course you get hurt by it. It’s how you deal with the adversity that’s important.
It remains to be seen if Cheika is given the opportunity to deal with the adversity by his bosses.