Brutal Wallabies criticism sparks angry war of words

Former Wallabies star Drew Mitchell has sparked an angry war of words with a rugby journalist who called for heads to roll after Australia’s Bledisloe Cup capitulation.

Renowned rugby writer Greg Growden penned an article for ESPN demanding Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and his staff be sacked after Australia’s latest Test humiliation against the All Blacks in Sydney.

The Aussies squandered a 6-5 halftime lead after being steamrolled in the second half as New Zealand romped to an emphatic 38-13 win in the first Test.

Growden contended a 25-win, 22-loss record wasn’t good enough and a fresh set of coaching names should be introduced well ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Drew Mitchell runs the ball during the Rugby Championship match between Australian and the South Africa on September 10, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“Drastic action is required because Cheika’s Wallabies are going absolutely nowhere, sending Australian rugby into a frightening nose-dive,” Growden wrote.

“Cheika must pay the price for a team whose appalling skill level makes a mockery of the professional footballer tag, and arrogant, holier-than-thou attitude does not warrant any respect from those sick and tired of a pedestrian outfit who constantly makes fools of themselves in the big games.”

Former Wallabies star Mitchell, who was capped 71 times by the national side, took aim at Growden over the inflammatory suggestion – sparking a rebuke from the journalist himself.

Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was quick to jump to the defence of Cheika, insisting the players should shoulder most of the blame for their most recent defeat to the All Blacks.

Polota-Nau, who has played 33 of his 83 Tests under Cheika, remains adamant the right man is at the helm of the national side.

“He actually brings a great blueprint for us to work off,” Polota-Nau said of his former Waratahs coach.

“If anything, it’s more about how we take that blueprint and put it out there on the field.

“If anything, he’s also a great motivator, getting us to be upbeat in every single session that we take because you never know when your next Test might be. For some it might not be.”

Cheika has come under fire after the Wallabies’ latest Test humbling. Pic: Getty

Polota-Nau, part of a badly misfiring lineout, expects a vastly improved all-round performance at Eden Park in the second Test.

He believes he and his teammates could be accused of lacking application.

“There were times that we did switch on but not all of us. It was one of us at different times in the second half.

“If we can maintain the pressure that we had on (early) throughout the whole 80 minutes, it’ll definitely be a different ball game.”

The All Blacks were eager to stay out of any debate surrounding Cheika’s merits.

Assistant coach Ian Foster was asked to assess whether the Wallabies had made progress since he began in late 2014.

“Do you seriously want me to talk about that?” he asked.

“I don’t want to comment on another coach. As far as I’m concerned, every Aussie team that we play’s been well prepared and it’s been a battle so I’ll just leave it at that.”

With AAP