Michael Cheika on Tuesday accused New Zealand’s Steve Hansen of taking a cheap shot with his “shallow” suggestion the Australian was letting England mentor Eddie Jones bully him.

Hansen, after England claimed an unprecedented series victory in Australia, said he was puzzled the normally feisty Cheika refused to respond to Jones’ verbal jibes ahead of the first two Tests.

The New Zealander suggested Cheika was being deferential towards his compatriot because they were old Sydney clubmates, and the attitude had rubbed off on his players.

But Cheika rejected the notion and accused Hansen of putting the boot into an Australia side already hurting after the series loss.

“I think that’s a pretty shallow sort of view on what’s really involved in coaching and he knows better than that,” Cheika told reporters.

“It’s easy to kick blokes when they’re down. We’re down, but we’ll be getting back up, don’t worry about that.”

Cheika, who is desperate to avoid a 3-0 series whitewash in Sydney this weekend, said he saw no point in waging a media battle with Jones.

“If I thought it would have made us play better, yeah, I would have got into it… but anyone who knows the game will understand it has no bearing whatsoever on the end result,” he said.

Hansen’s remarks are certain to add spice to trans-Tasman clashes in this year’s Rugby Championship, with Australia and New Zealand due to meet in Sydney on August 20.

Their last match was the Rugby World Cup final, where New Zealand won against a Wallabies outfit that exceeded expectations in reaching the final. – Agence France-Presse

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