The former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer has upped the ante for bad feeling on the Lions tour by describing the tourists as "cheats".
"We have a great game and there is massive scope for playing attractive rugby," Dwyer told the Weekend Australian. "It's not supposed to be a contest to see who can cheat the best. It's who can play the best."
Dwyer specifically cited the Lions coach, Warren Gatland, saying: "After having seen the Lions in action on tour, it doesn't come as any surprise they're coached by a New Zealander because they play outside the laws of the game, as every New Zealand side does."
He went on to develop his argument by accusing the Lions of scrummaging illegally. Among their perceived offences were the hookers pushing upwards, the props binding illegally, putting their hand on the ground for extra stability and, in the case of Mako Vunipola, of angling in from the loosehead side.
"When they put the delayed shove on, they scrummage upwards so there is nowhere for the opposing hooker to go but up," said Dwyer, the former World Cup winner, who for good measure also reckoned the Lions were knowingly employing illegal tactics for kick-off receipts.
"They form a barrier in front of the catcher," he said. "At times against the Combined Country side, there were four of them in a line ahead of the catcher. One of them made an almost childish imitation of trying to catch the ball to persuade the ref he wasn't doing anything wrong. You can't screen the catcher. Surely that was obvious to anyone watching the game."
Dwyer commended the Lions for the way they hit rucks, driving in low and hard, but in case this sounded too close to being praise, qualified it by saying: "It's good play, right up to the point where they go straight to ground to seal off the ball.
"The most obvious guy to detect doing this against Combined Country and the Reds was their second-row Richie Gray, who is about 11ft tall and has a mop of blond hair, so he's pretty hard to miss. But the officials missed him anyway, even when he joined the ruck from in front of the ball."
According to Dwyer, the Lions' tactics at the breakdown are designed to ensure they not only win the ball but also delay the arrival of opposing players at the next ruck. "They power past the ball by a metre and a half and then they hold on to defenders' jerseys," he said.
"When they run decoy plays, the decoy runner invariably makes contact with the defender. He doesn't smash him out of the way or anything so blatant but it has the effect of impeding the defence."
Then, just in case anyone had not got the message, he signed off by saying: "You don't have to be smart to cheat," he said. "You just have to be a cheat."
For Vunipola, Tom Croft, Tom Youngs, Sean Maitland and Simon Zebo there will be a sense of opportunity knocking when the Lions take on the Waratahs on Saturday, while Sam Warburton goes in search of the performance that will rubber-stamp his place at the front of the team that jogs out at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane next Saturday.
The Waratahs are talking a good game and will field four internationals as they seek their first win over the Lions since 1959. "We're not going to get bogged down in the fact that they are the Lions and we are the poor old Waratahs," warned their captain, Dave Dennis, belatedly released from Australia's training camp for this contest.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Hamedog