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All Blacks boss Hansen describes spying suggestions as ‘best clickbait’ in world

The All Blacks face England in the World Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

Steve Hansen laughed off spying suggestions from the England camp (David Davies/PA)
Steve Hansen laughed off spying suggestions from the England camp (David Davies/PA)

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent, Tokyo

New Zealand boss Steve Hansen has laughed off spying suggestions from the England camp and described them as “the best clickbait in the world”.

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It emerged on Tuesday that one of England’s training sessions was filmed by an unidentified cameraman who was spotted in one of the residential buildings overlooking the pitch.

England head coach Eddie Jones did not allege that New Zealand were responsible, and Hansen was in jocular mood on the subject at his team announcement press conference ahead of Saturday’s World Cup semi-final between the countries in Yokohama.

“Eddie and I both know that all is fair in love and war,” Hansen said. “There is nothing better in war than throw a wee distraction out that you guys (media) can’t resist.

“It’s the best clickbait in the world – someone’s spying on us. He didn’t call at us. He was very deliberate in not doing that.

“He talked about it being somebody else. It was probably the same bloke who videoed us when we were there, but everyone has jumped on it and he’s been successful in getting the clickbait.

“He was very particular about what he said, that someone had filmed their training. He said it could have been a supporter. He didn’t say New Zealand did it.”

Asked if it was a case of mind games, Hansen added: “It is only a mind game if you buy into it.

“We are not buying into it. It has allowed us to have a good laugh. I am chuckling away.”

Hansen said he had been in contact with Jones this week, and said: “He’s been in touch with me, but not about spying.

“I get a text – ‘how are you going, Steve? Pretty good, thanks Eddie’. He’s laughing, I’m laughing. You guys are getting what you want because everyone is clicking on the bait.”

Asked if Jones had accompanied his text with a smiley face emoji, Hansen joked: “No, he’s not a smiley face man!”

Hansen has named lock Scott Barrett at blindside flanker for the England clash, with Ardie Savea moving to openside flanker and skipper Kieran Read completing the back-row unit.

Asked about pressure surrounding the semi-final, Hansen said: “I’ve talked about pressure ever since I have been an All Blacks coach. We are under pressure all the time.

“I think early in our history, we ran away from it, so it (pressure) was chasing us down the street.

“These days, we’ve had to acknowledge it is there. We are expected to win every game.

Hansen has named lock Scott Barrett at blindside flanker for the England clash (Adam Davy/PA)

“It’s a big game, but it would be very naive to think there is not pressure on both sides.

“We know we are under pressure. We don’t need Eddie to tell us that. What he needs to work out is what are England going to do about the pressure they are under.

“They will have memories about a tournament (World Cup) four years ago, and they will be under immense pressure themselves. They have got a whole four years’ work resulting on one outcome.”

Discussing England, Hansen said: “They’ve been determined to enter the professional era and be successful, and there have been moments when they’ve done that really well.

“They probably haven’t had as much success as they probably wanted, and they’ve had a massive disappointment at the last World Cup. But that creates adversity.

“We felt that in 2007 and that adversity gave us the ability to look at ourselves. I’m sure England will have done that, too. They have been a marvellous team during periods of that time in the last four years.

“Let’s hope the game can live up to the hype that will come with it because, if it does, we will be sending a message around the world to rugby lovers and people seeing it for the first time – ‘wow, what a wonderful game’.

“There is an important side to the outcome about who will win it, but it won’t define the All Blacks and I’m sure it won’t define England either.”



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