Perth, Australia, Aug 8 (AFP/APP):Wallabies coach Michael Cheika shrugged off being called “Mickey Mouse” by All Blacks opposite number Steve Hansen, insisting on Thursday it didn’t bother him as the heat was turned up ahead of their blockbuster Bledisloe Cup clash in Perth.
Hansen reportedly made the mocking jibe at a Wellington charity event in February, also claiming the Australian was vulnerable to mind games because he had trouble controlling his emotions.
Asked about the barb when unveiling his team for Saturday’s match, Cheika said it was “no drama for me”, but added that he believed in keeping the game respectful.
“Respect is an important thing in footy. It’s the nature of the game, you rip into each other and then you socialise after,” he told reporters.
Hansen made the remarks after being questioned about Australian great Mark Ella’s 2016 claim that
“Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks to victory” given the quality of New Zealand’s players.
“They’ve got Mickey Mouse coaching Aussie,” he reportedly replied at a charity function, adding that it was possible to distract Cheika by using niggling ploys like refusing to use his name before matches.
In a bid to defuse the situation on Thursday, Hansen denied directly labelling Cheika as the Disney character.
“I never said he was Mickey Mouse,” he said, according to New Zealand media.
“What I said was in a throwaway line… So you can make a big thing out of it if you want, or you can take it for what it was. Something in jest.”