Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has laughed off suggestions English spies have infiltrated his World Cup training camp.
Cheika and his team opened the papers on Monday expecting to be met with headlines about Saturday’s vital Pool A match with England, but were caught off guard by what they saw.
The Sun newspaper reported that a photographer had been spotted, and removed, from a closed session at the the Wallabies’ training base at Bath University last week.
England have flatly denied any suggestion they were behind the would-be spy, and Australia did not lodge any official complaint with World Rugby.
It wouldn’t be the first time accusations of espionage have emerged in the northern hemisphere.
In 2005, All Blacks coaches Graham Henry and Wayne Smith famously found camouflaged men hiding in bushes with equipment to film their training sessions in London.
The immediate suggestion following the latest claims was that such an incident would cause tension to rise between Australia and England ahead of the Twickenham clash, in which a loss would force an embarrassing pool-stage exit for the host nation.
But Cheika was at ease with the story, jokingly pointing to his side’s massive turnover of personnel across the first two Tests as a reason to doubt whether any photographer sourced vital information.
“We don’t even know what we’re doing, so how is anyone watching us going to know what we’re doing,” he said.
“There’s a long list of people who have seen people with a camera here or there over here.
“It is what it is. I’m not worried about it, but I heard about it and we’ve got to have a bit of a laugh.”