Steve Hansen has rejected the 'cheating' claims.
Steve Hansen has rejected the 'cheating' claims.

Aussie great shreds ‘boozy lunch’ sledge

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been called out by former Wallabies rugby great Drew Mitchell.

Mitchell, a veteran of 71 tests, said that recent comments Hansen made at a dinner went against everything the All Blacks stood for.

Speaking at a fundraiser dinner on Monday night, Hansen was asked what he thought of former Wallabies player Mark Ella's jibe that "Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks to victory", due to New Zealand's rich pool of rugby talent.

Hansen reportedly said "they've got Mickey Mouse coaching Aussie", before claiming Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was "not a bad bloke, [but] he's got to control his emotions".

Mitchell today ripped in to Hansen.

"You hear the stories about them sweeping out the sheds and things like that - they've been the pinnacle of the game on and off the field," he told AAP.

"It's disappointing to think perhaps that a boozy lunch, where he thinks things will be kept in house, that that may be their true opinion.

"When everyone's watching he'll say what everyone wants to hear, but when it's behind closed doors in an environment where they think no quotes will be taken, then it comes out."

The All Blacks mentor, who will step down following this year's World Cup, is understood to be livid the throwaway line was made public.

Drew Mitchell: ‘Behind closed doors ... then it all comes out’
Drew Mitchell: ‘Behind closed doors ... then it all comes out’

Mitchell anticipates Cheika will allow the banter to go through to the 'keeper as he prepares for a World Cup in the absence of sacked assistant coach Stephen Larkham.

The former winger said it was a necessary move to rid "the opportunity for any ambiguity" but warned them not to arrive in Japan as one-trick ponies.

"They needed to do it if the head of the attack and backs coach isn't on the same page as the head coach - the players will be getting mixed messages," he said.

"But you can't go into a World Cup with just one style of play.

"You've got to have that capacity to play expansively when the opportunity presents or tighten it up to play the clock."

This article originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald and was republished with permission