All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has dismissed close friend Eddie Jones’ claims that England’s training session was spied on as a ‘distraction’.
In a colourful media conference on Tuesday, Jones said they spotted someone filming England’s training from an apartment block near the ground from the start of the week, but refused to mention the All Blacks or investigate the matter.
After naming the All Blacks team to face England in the World Cup semi-final in Yokohama on Saturday, Hansen dismissed the claim as just an extra bit of banter between the two friends.
‘Eddie and I both know it’s all fair in love and war, and there’s nothing better in a time of war than to throw a wee distraction out,’ Hansen said. ‘You guys can’t resist, best clickbait in the world.
‘He didn’t call it us, he was very deliberate about that, he talked about it being someone else, probably the same bloke that videoed us when we were there. But everyone has jumped on it and he’s been successful at getting the clickbait he wants.
‘There’ll be a bit more tonight. It’s the reason why our press conference is now and his is at five o’clock. I’ll look forward to reading it. It’s been good. It’s allowed us to have a good laugh and be relaxed.
‘He has been in touch with me but not about those claims,’ Hansen added. ‘We have had a few laughs about a few other things.
‘It’s only a mind game if you buy into it and we’re not buying into it. We’re just having a good laugh about it. I’m chuckling away and I get a text, “How you going, Steve?” – “I’m going fine, thanks Eddie.” He’s laughing, I’m laughing and you guys are fine, too, because everyone is clicking on it – and we’re wasting time talking about it now.’
The All Blacks are on a six-game winning streak over England, having last lost to their opponents in 2012. In their previous meeting last year, England let a 15-point lead slip to lose 16-15 in a game where flank Sam Underhill had a potential winning try controversially ruled out by the TMO.
Jones insisted that the All Blacks would therefore be the favourites to win on Saturday and would be under the most pressure. Hansen said that England would come under their own pressure due to their underperformance at the 2015 World Cup, where they became the first host nation to be knocked out at the group stages.
‘We’re under pressure all the time. I think early in our history, we ran away from it so it was chasing us down the street,’ Hansen said. ‘But these days, we’ve had to acknowledge it’s there; now we’re expected to win every game whether it’s quarter-final, semi-final or just an ordinary Test match. So there is pressure; it’s a big game. But it would be naive to think that there’s not pressure on both sides and, when you can publicly acknowledge that it’s on you, then there’s an awareness – and that same pressure’s running down the same street he’s on.
‘He’s trying to take pressure off his own side by getting everyone to talk to us about pressure. Again, smart move. But I’m not buying into it, our players aren’t buying into it. We know we’re 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’re under. Because they’ll have memories about a tournament four years ago that didn’t go that good – so they’ll be under immense pressure themselves.
‘So, to say they’ve got nothing to lose, Eddie doesn’t believe that either. They’ve got a whole four years work resting on one outcome so they get the opportunity to go and play another game which will have the same amount of pressure on them.’
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