Wallabies reject All Black "snub" claims over Whitelock's 100th cap

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has rejected claims his team were "disrespectful" by not remaining on the field post-match in Sydney for a 100th Test presentation for All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock. 

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen helped stir the drama ahead of the second Bledisloe Cup Test - biting at a question which queried whether Australia had "snubbed" Whitelock by not staying on ANZ Stadium as the rest of the New Zealand team and his family honoured him with a special cap.

The questions came in the wake of a New Zealand Herald column by Gregor Paul - who this week incorrectly said the Black Ferns had warmed up on a "netball court" in Sydney.

Paul's column insisted the Australians were aware of the presentation and decided "it was more important to begin the debrief and planning for this week than honour a rival player making his 100th Test appearance."

Rugby Australia had given the green light for the on-field ceremony but it's understood Wallabies players were not aware the presentation would take place.

Footage still shows several Australian players - Michael Hooper, Will Genia, Bernard Foley and Pete Samu - did make their way over to congratulate Whitelock after noticing the presentation.Sam Whitelock is at the centre of a storm in a teacup. Photo: Getty ImagesThat didn't stop Hansen from implying there was an element of disrespect at hand at Thursday's team announcement press conference.

"I know if it was us, we’d stay out and acknowledge it," Hansen said.

"It’s a tremendous feat playing 100 Test matches, it doesn’t matter what country it is.

"There’s a lot of energy, mental fortitude, time, a lot of sacrifices by the player’s family, his kids, his wife, his partner, to get to that point.

"So it’s worthy of respecting."Michael Cheika said Hansen's insinuation of disrespect was a 'stretch'. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWallabies coach Michael Cheika didn't take kindly to Hansen's suggestion of disrespect, labelling it a "stretch".

"Well I’ve never seen it before, we certainly wouldn’t be asking to do it on another team’s ground, we’d do it in the dressing room," Cheika said.

“But if that’s what they want to do I’m sure they did it and congratulations to the player, he’s a fine player, 100 caps is a really, really great effort.

"And same to the lad who is grabbing it this week as well, always respect there.

"To say that we lack respect is a little bit of a stretch from Steve Hansen."

In 2009, the Wallabies presented George Smith with his 100th cap in the Eden Park change rooms after a Bledisloe Cup Test match and did the same for Stephen Moore's 100th in the World Cup quarter final against Scotland.

Owen Franks will play his 100th Test this Saturday at Eden Park and there will be a presentation post-match.

The New Zealand Herald attempted to stir up drama once again by saying this would put the Wallabies in an awkward position - insinuating staying on the field will be an admission of guilt for their actions one week prior.

But Wallabies players routinely remain on the field for such presentations - put on by the host nation - while playing away fixtures.

The Wallabies face the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, 7:35pm local, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten, RUGBY.com.au radio and Macquarie Sports radio.