Rugby Championship

All Blacks hit back at 'paranoia' spy claims

2016-08-22 08:20
Steve Hansen (Gallo)

Sydney - The New Zealand All Blacks have denied they are paranoid about being spied on amid revelations they routinely sweep hotel rooms for listening devices, reports said on Monday.

An Australian police investigation is underway after the All Blacks said they had uncovered a device in their Sydney hotel ahead of the Rugby Championship opener on Saturday.

It was planted inside a chair and found during a security sweep of a meeting room in the lead-up to the Test, won by the All Blacks 42-8.

They reportedly suspected being bugged during the World Cup in England last year too, but lacked the technology to confirm it.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, who is a former policeman, admitted post-match that the team routinely sweep hotel rooms for bugging devices.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster scoffed at claims the world champions were paranoid.

"It's interesting you use the word paranoia. You can kick that word for touch," Foster told The Australian newspaper.

"All teams are protective of the way they want to go about things. That is something we have done occasionally and for obvious reasons.

"It has shocked everyone. We understand a few mixed emotions. It's not great for the game, but it's happened and it's out of our hands now. We'll just move forward."

New Zealand were also under fire on Monday for not notifying police until five days after first detecting the listening device.

Former International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed said the delay before police were informed was "far from ideal" from an anti-corruption perspective.

"If one of the possibilities is that it's linked to betting or corruption, it's less than ideal that it wasn't reported immediately," Speed told Fairfax Media.

"In cricket we were alert to issues like this and asked to report it to the local authorities immediately."

Hansen said there was nothing untoward about how long it took New Zealand Rugby to go to the police.

"The reason we didn't go there straight away is because we went through a process with the hotel and then our CEO (Steve Tew) was away at the Rio Olympics," Hansen told reporters.

"He arrived and he needed to be spoken to and be fully briefed. Once he was fully briefed he said we need to take this to the police."

Police were apparently the last to know when they were finally told on Saturday morning after media had reported the story.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the bugging was not a distraction for Australia, despite their six-try belting.

"It didn't unsettle me," Cheika said. "They didn't accuse us of doing it. It's got nothing to do with us and wouldn't have unsettled us.

"There's no excuse-making. I'm not sure why it came out on game day when it was done on Monday. It had no material effect on the game."

The Wallabies did not sweep hotel rooms for listening devices, he added.

"We don't do that. If that's their thing, that's up to them."

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