All Blacks call the ‘A-team’

THE All Blacks defended using security guards to ward off spies at training after yesterday naming their “A team” to face Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.

Wary of a “dangerous” Wallabies side in the second Bledisloe Cup match at Suncorp Stadium, New Zealand made seven changes to the team which beat South Africa 35-17 in Wellington last Saturday.

Coach Graham Henry largely reverted to the team which beat Australia 32-12 two weeks earlier with the one change to the starting side being at lock where Ali Williams takes over from youngster Jason Eaton.

“This is the experienced team isn’t it that’s played a lot of Test matches together,” Henry said.

“A lot of these guys have played a lot of important Test matches together, so yeah, you could call that the A team.”

The All Blacks trained at Brisbane Boys’ Grammar School’s rugby fields on the city’s northside and had security guards on hand to keep out “spies.”

“I was with the Lions in 2001 — some of you may remember... interesting experience — where we did have some people there who shouldn’t have been there,” Henry said.

Henry said NZ forwards coach and ex-Wales mentor Steve Hansen was in charge of security because “he’s conscious of those things.”

“Everywhere we train now we have security people, one to make sure that people don’t get in there who shouldn’t be there and might disrupt the training and, two, to make sure that it’s kept to ourselves rather than shared with the opposition,” Henry said.

Hansen, a former police man said: “For me that’s one of the things (spying) that’s gone wrong in the game.

“I mean there’s no doubt that it happens and we saw that last year before the England game (at Twickenham) when we had two guys dressed in camouflage gear with video cameras.

“They were not there working for newspapers.

“That’s something that happens and I guess it’s a reflection on how important the games have become.”

Backs coach Wayne Smith said spying was against the spirit of the game.

“It breaks a code of ethics,” he said.

Despite their concerns about security, the All Blacks hadn’t suspected the Wallabies of any underhand activities.

Smith said he expected the Wallabies to be much more difficult than they were in the Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup opener in Christchurch on July 8.

“Comments out of their camp have been few and far between this time which says something about the attitude and the fact they’re steeling up,” he said.

“I guess they are hoping to let their performance do the talking on Saturday night. They’re probably in a pretty dangerous mood.”

Henry said the selectors were pleased with 22-year-old Hurricanes lock Eaton but had gone for Williams, 25, as he was the “incumbent frontline lock.”

“We just didn’t think this was the game for him (Eaton) to play,” he said.

Prop Tony Woodcock (calf) and fullback Leon MacDonald (elbow) have been nursing injuries but both are expected to play.

Tough halfback Piri Weepu was injured against South Africa and is replaced on the bench by Jimmy Cowan.

The Wallabies name their team today.

NEW ZEALAND (v Australia): L MacDonald; R Gear, M Muliaina, A Mauger, J Rokocoko; D Carter, B Kelleher; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, C Hayman, C Jack, A Williams, J Collins, R McCaw (capt), R So’oialo.

Replacements: I Toeava, L McAlister, J Cowan, C Masoe, J Eaton, H Somerville, A Hore.

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