'I think David Pocock is a cancer on the game'

Melissa Woods

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has slammed former Irish lock Neil Francis for calling David Pocock a "cancer on the game".

Writing in UK paper The Independent, the player-turned-pundit criticised the Australian flanker after his star performance in the Wallabies' opening win over Ireland.

"I think David Pocock is a cancer on the game," wrote Francis, who played 36 Tests between 1987 and 1996.

"Yes, I do have 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 any rhythm that Ireland looked like they were beginning to achieve.

Pocock copped the shocking criticism after his standout performance against Ireland. Pic: Getty

"You have to make special preparations to counter Pocock."

The description of Pocock, who was playing his first Test in 18 months after taking a sabbatical, riled Cheika.

"That guy needs to choose his words better," Cheika said.

"It's not a very nice term to use to say ... there are people who are really sick out there so I'm not into that."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has stuck with an unchanged team for the second Test against Ireland

Cheika said he himself had been in Francis' firing line when he was coaching Leinster.

"He used to say a lot of stuff about us when we coached Leinster, some unflattering words he would use for his own publicity."

Francis courted controversy in 2014 when expressed his belief that gay people had no interest in sport.