Zinzan Brooke has only launched a scathing attack on Taulupe Faletau because the All Blacks fear his "world-class" impact for the British and Irish Lions, according to Shane Williams.
Former New Zealand number eight Brooke criticised Faletau for lacking the "mongrel edge" to flourish on the summer's Lions tour, but ex-Wales wing Williams has dismissed the jibes as mere mind games.
Wales flanker Faletau could yet forge a potent back-row partnership with England wrecking-ball Billy Vunipola in New Zealand, leaving former Lions speedster Williams purring at the prospect.
The Lions' bid for a first series win over the All Blacks since 1971 will get under way on June 3 with a clash against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.
Faletau is fighting to carry top form into the gruelling 10-match, three-Test tour, after suffering knee problems earlier in the year.
And the 26-year-old improved his lot by blasting in a hat-trick in Bath's 44-20 demolition of Gloucester on Sunday.
Brooke insisted Faletau cannot command "key player" status in Warren Gatland's Lions squad, but Williams laughed off the criticism.