All Blacks' training ground searched over bugging worry about lineout calls
The All Blacks were so worried about security in Sydney that a search was carried out to check if listening devices had been buried under the oval they were training on, a court has heard.
The New Zealand rugby team's security fears were revealed during a court hearing on Monday for security guard Adrian Gard accused of making up claims he found a bugging device in the team's Sydney hotel last year.
Gard has pleaded not guilty in the Downing Centre Local Court to making a false representation resulting in a police investigation after claiming he discovered the bug secreted in a chair in the All Blacks' meeting room at the Intercontinental Hotel in Double Bay in August 2016.
Witness Charles Carter, who owns the company The Bug Sweepers, told the court Gard had asked him to carry out a sweep for bugs at North Sydney Oval where the All Blacks were training on Monday August 15 and later at the team hotel.
Carter checked if any bugs had been placed under ground near where the All Blacks were training but found nothing.
He said team management had suspected they had been bugged before and wanted to make sure there were no listening devices hidden near the players to record their lineout calls.
Carter later checked the hotel and found two chairs in the team's meeting room which had given off "alerts".
He urged Gard to quarantine the chairs and to check them for bugs.
Carter had earlier been told the team had had a security breach in South Africa when their computers were hacked.
Darren Shand, the All Blacks' team manager, giving evidence via videolink from New Zealand, told the court he was shocked when a bug was found.
He and Gard had stared at the listening device in disbelief.
Shand had been working in his hotel room at about 5pm on the Monday when Gard called to say he needed to see him urgently.
When he entered Gard's room, he saw the two conference chairs taken from the team's meeting room.
Material from one chair had been cut back and Shand could see what looked like a battery and some wires. The wires were running over the top of the foam on the chair.
Shand remembered asking, "What is that?", before both men stared at the bug in "shock", coming to the realisation it was a listening device.
The hearing resumes on Tuesday.