All Blacks keeping one eye on court case

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by AAP & Beth Newman

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been keeping one eye on long-time security guard Adrian Gard and his ongoing court case, over a listening device found in the team's hotel last year.

Back at the Intercontinental Hotel in Double Bay ahead of Saturday's Bledisloe, Hansen said he was staying across the developments of Gard's case, which continued on Wednesday.

"Obviously we’re watching with interest. He’s a good man and we feel for him," he said.

Detective Sergeant Paul Mangan on Thursday told the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney that Adrian Gard was initially treated as a witness but the detective was "suspicious of some of the circumstances".

Steve Hansen is staying across Adrian Gard's hearing. Photo: Getty ImagesGard has denied making up claims about finding the bug secreted in a chair in the All Blacks' meeting room at the InterContinental Hotel in Double Bay in August 2016.

Questioned by defence barrister Anthony Kimmins, Mangan agreed he was scathing of All Blacks team manager Darren Shand when interviewing him for the first time five days after the bug was found.

Mangan said police were concerned about what had happened to the two chairs which Gard claimed had given abnormal readings during a bug sweep of the team's meeting room in the hotel on August 15 last year.

Shand had previously told the court he saw one of the chairs in Gard's room had been cut open and what looked like a listening device inside.

Mangan said the chairs in question had later been left unattended in the hotel for five days before police were called in.

The All Blacks had wanted the investigation into the bug handled internally to avoid the media getting involved.

Mangan said when it came time to charging Gard, one of the police's main concerns about the case was the continuity of evidence involving the chairs.

CCTV footage from inside the hotel on August 15 last year showed Gard taking the two chairs up to his room on the fourth floor at 4.28pm.

Gard is then seen at 4.45pm taking the lift down before returning with Shand at 4.53pm.

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Gard has pleaded not guilty to making a false representation resulting in a police investigation into the bug.

The discovery of the device, and the All Blacks' five-day wait to tell the police soured relations between Australia and New Zealand, with the Wallabies and the ARU incensed at the inference they were involved, though Hansen maintains the All Blacks never accused Australia.

Hansen said he told Michael Cheika as such earlier this year.

 We had a chat in Japan and I made it clear to him that we didn’t highlight and say [they] were a candidate," he said.

"There’s only x amount of people that would take that opportunity.

"Whether we like it or not if you (the  found a bug in your team room, we’d have been one of those people. We certainly haven’t named them as that and we never will because we don’t know who put it there.

Cheika said he wasn't worried about the bugging developments, two days out from the Bledisloe opener.

"My take on it is as far as I know there's still a court case going around  all that stuff so the last thing I should be doing is talking about it. I'm sure once the court case is over, it'll all come out in the wash.

"I'm watching the game with interest, not interested at all in the other thing."

The maximum penalty is 12 months' jail and a A$5500 fine. The hearing continues.