Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has urged former Irish lock Neil Francis to be careful with his words after he called David Pocock a “cancer on the game”.
Writing for The Independent, the 36-Test lock criticised the Australian flanker after his impressive performance in the Wallabies’ win over his native Ireland.
“I think David Pocock is a cancer on the game,” wrote Francis.
“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.
“You have to make special preparations to counter Pocock.”
Francis’ description of Pocock got under the skin of Cheika, who responded.
“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.”
Cheika said he had previously fallen victim to Francis’ tirades during his stint as head coach of 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 is no stranger to controversy. In 2014 he came under fire for expressing his belief that gay people had no interest in sport.
Cheika and Pocock will be looking to secure a series victory of the world No. 2 Ireland on Saturday night, in what will be Pocock’s second test in the last 18 months following his sabbatical.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now