All Blacks captain Richie McCaw "can't understand" why any player would undermine their team like playmaker Quade Cooper has done to the Wallabies.
Cooper's criticism of Australia's boring play and accusation the Wallabies were a "toxic environment" has also turned heads in Argentina where New Zealand hope to officially wrap up the Rugby Championship on Sunday (AEST) in La Plata.
McCaw wasn't about to put the boot into the dramatic fall from grace of his trans-Tasman rivals, 13 months after they claimed the Tri-Nations title, but instead suggested the unsavoury allegations reflected poorly on old sparring partner Cooper.
The New Zealand skipper has great respect for his former Crusaders coach Robbie Deans and stand-in Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe and firmly believed both would ensure Australia responds in fine fashion against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld.
"If I know anything, a team like that, they'll be in Pretoria and be pretty tight about getting the job done," McCaw said.
"I know guys like Nathan Sharpe, they're good rugby men, they're proud men, they'll be doing everything they can to ensure their environment works.
"I guess sometimes with peripheral stuff you can't worry about it. I'm sure that's exactly what Robbie will be emphasising.
"I can't understand someone going on like that but that's just the way it is I suppose."
Asked if that's the way Cooper was, McCaw said: "Seems to be doesn't it ... I don't really know the guy so who knows?"
There's little love lost between the pair as they've held a long-running battle since they first clashed in the 2010 Bledisloe Test in Hong Kong when Cooper shoved McCaw in the head after James O'Connor scored a last-gasp match-winning try.
The Wallabies five-eighth, who was also exonerated for kneeing McCaw after a ruck in the Tri-Nations decider last year, has never made excuses for his actions, and suggested the All Blacks flanker was a wily culprit for niggling tactics.
For the time being, the Australian Rugby Union has put the heat on Cooper to decide his future after he warned he wouldn't play for the Wallabies again if changes weren't made.
The 38-Test flyhalf has delayed signing a new contract offer tabled in July - a month after he signed a three-year Super Rugby deal with Queensland.
"The reality is a decision on whether or not he stays in Australian Rugby has to this point rested with him since he received an ARU offer in early July," said ARU boss John O'Neill.