All Blacks consultant denies charge in bugging case

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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. (Photo: Grant Down / www.photosport.nz)

SYDNEY (AP) — A security consultant for the New Zealand All Blacks has denied making a false statement to police after a listening device was found in a meeting room at the team's hotel in Sydney before a rugby test against Australia last August.

Adrian Gard, a 51-year-old Australian who has done work for the All Blacks for more than 10 years, appeared in the Waverley Local Court on Tuesday, where he formally denied a charge of false misrepresentation resulting in a police investigation. The case was adjourned until May 2.

The charge does not imply Gard placed the listening device but he is alleged to have misled police during their investigation.

The device was discovered in a chair in the team room five days before All Blacks officials made it public, on the morning of the test against Australia. The New Zealanders had a 42-8 win over an Australian team angered by the timing of the announcement.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has described the charge as "bizarre and unbelievable," adding that Gard "is someone who is trusted and well-respected by us."

The Australian Rugby Union said it had no involvement in the placement of the listening device.

"The aspect that still leaves a bitter taste out of this whole affair is that the discovery of the device was reported publicly on game day when it is understood that the alleged discovery of the device occurred much earlier in the week leading up to the test match," ARU chairman Bill Pulver said after police charged Gard last month.

"Clearly the media attention which resulted from it was a distraction that neither team needed on the morning of a very important test match."

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