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All Blacks deny Bledisloe prep breach

By Jim Morton 28/07/2010 01:42:43 PM Comments (0)

Another Bledisloe Cup Test has been gripped by fresh espionage concerns which has angered the sensitive All Blacks and drawn Wallabies smiles from beyond the "grassy knoll".

For the third time in four years, New Zealand officials are upset secret tactics have been exposed after a picture of detailed plans held by coach Graham Henry was published in Australian newspapers on Wednesday.

The All Blacks denied their preparations for Saturday night's clash at Etihad Stadium had been compromised by the photo, and a subsequent report analysing likely attacking moves, but still accused the media of a "breach of trust".

Ironically it's a Kiwi photographer, Scott Barbour, who is the man in the middle of the controversy after his long lens snapped the picture as Henry put his troops through their paces on Tuesday morning.

NZ team management are set to complain to Barbour's employers Getty Images, the official photo agency for the 2011 World Cup, and are considering banning the photographer from their remaining sessions.

Assistant coach Steve Hansen said Barbour had broken an unwritten rule but felt little damage had been done as he claimed the moves were Wallabies plays that had been outlined for their own defensive preparations.

"All I can say is that it was a defensive session so we won't be changing too much," Hansen said.

"It's disappointing that a photographer has broken the unwritten rule but you can't do much about it.

"I don't think one photo is going to make too much difference."

Australian assistant coach Jim Williams claimed the Wallabies weren't troubling themselves in deciphering the plays and denied they'd be concerned at all if his hand-written notes were photographed at training.

"I think I'd probably be looking at groceries or something like that," Williams quipped.

"Things that (lock) Dean Mumm's done wrong during the session, I wouldn't read much into it."

With Hansen sensationally accusing Channel 7 of helping Australian coach Robbie Deans spy on their 2008 trip to Brisbane, a Kiwi reporter on Wednesday asked where the Australian coaching staff was hiding.

"Robbie doesn't like to hide too much. He'd be right out in front there - on the grassy knoll I dare say," he said.

Hansen was also pilloried by former Wallabies assistant coach Scott Johnson, who previously teamed with him to coach Wales, in 2006 when the All Blacks used security guards to turn away onlookers from training sessions in Brisbane.

Johnson arrived at the next day's media conference in army-style camouflage gear with the words "paranoia is curable" stencilled into his shirt.

When Hansen coached Wales against NZ in Cardiff in late 2002 they had a hidden cameraman set up to film the All Blacks session after they were mysteriously forced to shift training venues to Sophia Gardens.

The switch was detailed in a recent book, 'Seeing Red' by Welsh video analyst Alun Carter, who also said Hansen employed a technician to tune into the short-wave radios used by French and Italian coaches.

The All Blacks have continued to be highly conscious of security with a South African cameraman working for a NZ television station removed from a training session before last year's Tri-Nations match in Durban.

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