If going by the first press conference, the Wallabies-England quarter-final clash at the Rugby World Cup looks set to be a tense affair.
Wallabies forwards Tolu Latu and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto fired back at a line of questioning from British media on the eve of the match-up between two of rugby’s great rivals in Oita on Saturday.
The duo were asked about coach Michael Cheika’s personality traits and laughed it off with Latu saying the question was a ‘complete joke’.
“Is it awkward when you get asked about your coach? You’re all giggling as if you didn’t want to answer, or you thought it was a stupid question – not quite sure which one?,” a journalist asked.
Hooker Latu fired back with a response: “Stupid question. To ask it, I don’t know, it’s different for you guys and different for us. For us, it comes across as a stupid question so that’s why we’re all laughing.
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“Obviously, you’re asking us a question that we think is a complete joke, so if you’re going to ask us questions like that, we’ll take it as a joke, and throw it back at you.”
Latu had earlier been pressed about his relationship with Cheika, and the Tongan-born 26-year-old left little doubt in the minds of all those present at the press conference about his stance towards his coach.
“To us, he’s our head coach, of course he cares, he cares about each and every one of us,” Latu said.
“Simple as that.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 14, 2019
The fiery exchange between Latu and the media comes after a string of comments made by Cheika aimed at rival coach Eddie Jones in the lead-up to the quarter-final showdown.
Last week, Cheika suggested Jones had piled extra pressure on his England side by stating that the Six Nations powerhouses will benefit from an elongated break as a result of their cancelled game against France due to Typhoon Hagibis.
The former Waratahs coach followed those comments up this week, highlighting how “weird” it was that rugby league coach Ricky Stuart, who coaches the Canberra Raiders in the NRL and is a long-time friend of Cheika’s, had joined the England camp this week.
“It must be weird for the players having an Aussie because Ricky is a legend. He’s a dual international and a tough man. Had a great season with the Raiders this year. Unreal,” Cheika said.
“I’d say it might be a bit weird for them. He’s going there for learning stuff. I have known him from way back.
“He’s a good guy, nice guy and very passionate about his footy and I love his passion for the game.”
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