Richard Kahui and Andy Ellis, both members of New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup winning squad, believe Michael Cheika has created a negative vibe in their camp which will permeate down to the players.
“I see Cheik and I feel for him because he’s obviously a man under pressure. It’s not just this World Cup, it’s been building the last 2-3 years,” Kahui told The Breakdown television show.
“(But) the way that he’s going about talking about referees and things, I just wonder how much that influences the players.
“It creates a negative environment and it’s like a snowball. It starts to build.”
Ellis believed the Wallabies had been “robbed” by some calls, particularly those made during Sunday’s loss to Wales.
However, the former halfback was critical of what was clearly a Cheika tactic to circle the wagons.
“I’ve heard the language being used — oh, it’s them against us — and I don’t think that’s healthy in a camp.”
Wallabies inside centre Matt To’omua rejected the view, saying such an attitude doesn’t even exist despite the outspoken antics of his coach Michael Cheika.
A series of rulings against Australia from match officials and the judiciary have been publicly challenged by Cheika through the first two rounds of the tournament, at one point saying it felt like “us against everyone else” at the tournament.
To’omua insisted there was no such sentiment behind the green and gold doors, and was keen to also shed any label of whingeing Wallabies.
“I wouldn’t say that’s the feeling within camp in the sense that we’re thinking everyone is against us,” he said.
“I don’t think (poor officiating) has had a direct impact or effect on the result of the game which is the main thing.
“If it was a last minute thing we might have felt hard-done by but we lost on the weekend because we were the worst of the two teams.”
Accomplished New Zealand referee Glen Jackson sided with his compatriots, believing Cheika had overplayed his hand with the ongoing criticism.