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Hansen laughs off Jones' spying comments as 'a distraction and clickbait'

‘Eddie needs to work out what England are going to do about the pressure they’re under.’

ALL BLACKS BOSS Steve Hansen has laughed off England counterpart Eddie Jones’ comments about spying, dismissing them as a “distraction” and “clickbait”.

The England head coach said on Tuesday that his security staff had noticed what appeared to be someone video recording their training session ahead of Saturday’s World Cup semi-final between the sides.

japan-rugby-wcup-new-zealand Hansen hosted a very busy press conference in Tokyo. Source: Aaron Favila

While Jones said it may have been a Japanese supporter, his defence coach John Mitchell later wished the All Blacks “good luck” if they wanted to spy on England.

Speaking today after naming his team to face the English in Yokohama on Saturday, Hansen said Jones is a “helluva good bloke and a really good coach” before dismissing the spying comments.

“We all know that there is nothing fair in love or war and there is nothing better in war than to throw a wee distraction out there,” said Hansen.

“We all know you guys [the media] can’t resist. The best clickbait in the world is to talk about spying. Eddie didn’t specify us, he was very deliberate about that. He talked about it being someone else, probably the same bloke who videoed us when we were there.

“But everyone jumped on it and Eddie has been successful at getting the clickbait working.”

Hansen laughed again when asked if Jones had been attempting to play mind games before the teams’ semi-final.

“It’s only a mind game if you buy into it and we’re not buying into it,” said the All Blacks boss, who followed up by stating that he had been speaking to Jones.

“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.’

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“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.

“There will be more tonight, won’t there? That’s why Eddie’s press conference is [later than the All Blacks'] at 5.30pm [local time in Tokyp]. I look forward to reading it, it’s been good. We had a good laugh reading it and we’re pretty relaxed.”

japan-rugby-wcup-england Jones at England training ahead of the clash with the Kiwis. Source: Christophe Ena

Jones also said on Tuesday that all the pressure was on the All Blacks, given their status as World Cup favourites.

Again, Hansen shrugged off that suggestion and said that England would be feeling their own intense pressure having failed to even get out of the group stages of their home World Cup in 2015.

“I’ve talked about pressure ever since I became All Blacks coach because we’re under pressure all the time,” said Hansen. “And I think early in our history, we ran away from it so it was chasing us down the street.

“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 [Jones] is on.

“And 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 England are 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.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Tokyo

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