SpyGate: Did the gamekeeper turn poacher?
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Is this a curious case of a gamekeeper turn poacher? The strange twists and turns of the bugging saga in a New Zealand team room last year took a more intriguing twist this week.
It is now believed the alleged bug - so publicly revealed by New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew last year - may well have been 'planted' by the All Blacks' very own security personnel.
It all stems from the 'revelation' that a listening device was discovered in the InterContinental Hotel in Double Bay on the morning before the first Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks in August last year.
It is reported in both the Australian and New Zealand media that police will allege Aussie-based Adrian Gard planted the bug himself, then "found" it.
Investigators did not believe the bug was in the foam of a chair as Gard had claimed, according to the reports.
Public mischief is an offence that relates to providing police with false information and carries a maximum 12-month jail term.
Gard will appear in Waverley Local Court on March 21.
Gard, who runs private Sydney security agency BGI, has remained tight-lipped about the saga.
All Black coach Steve Hansen, a former detective, was shocked about the latest developments.
"Frankly, the charge seems bizarre and unbelievable. It's very hard to understand," Hansen said.
"The charged man has worked for the All Blacks, and many other organisations, for a long time and is someone who is trusted and well-respected by us.
"However, as with all cases before the courts, there has to be a due process that takes place and it is not right or proper for us to make any further comment."
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika said he doesn't expect an apology from New Zealand Rugby over what he believes was a "ridiculous" inference that someone from Australia planted a listening device in an All Blacks team hotel.
Cheika welcomed the news that police had charged a security consultant employed by the All Blacks with public mischief.
Australia Rugby Union Chief Executive Bill Pulver expressed his disappointment that the story broke on the morning of such an important game.
Asked whether an apology would suffice, Cheika said: "Nah, I'm not expecting anything, I don't think that's necessary.
"They made a call. They made their play and the police have shown that to be a different outcome to what maybe that inference was but I don't expect anything like an apology.
"I'd forgotten about it really and then it came up. I was surprised they [the police] were still onto it but there was an investigation to be had and they did their business and came up with that solution and that outcome.
"I knew one thing was definite… the inference was that we were involved, I know that was ridiculous. I knew that would be the final outcome."
Cheika said it was reassuring to have public clarity that no one from the Wallaby camp was behind any kind of strange espionage ploy, particularly after police arrived at ARU headquarters to interview a number of member of staff about the incident.
"It's not nice to have to answer questions from police and stuff like that, especially when you've got absolutely nothing to do with it," Cheika said.
"I certainly didn't think that [a charge being laid] would happen. I'm surprised. I'll be interested to see what happens from here. It's pretty much water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned and it was what it was at the time and the reactions were real at the time. Nothing is going to stick in my mind too long."
Since the news broke on Tuesday, there has been the suggestion relations between Australian and New Zealand rugby are at an all-time low.
Sources: Sydney Morning Herald & Daily Telegraph