x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Security breach angers All Blacks but Williams sticks to the plan

Australia coach says he will prepare as normal despite evidence of tourists' plan to target Giteau.

The All Blacks game plan for their Tri Nations clash with Australia in Melbourne on Saturday may have been compromised after secret photographs were taken at a training session. A professional photographer - ironically a New Zealander - used his long lens to zoom in on a sheet of paper being held by Graham Henry, the All Blacks coach, containing tactical information at the visitors' Tuesday training run.

The image features four separate set-plays - three of which appear to target Matt Giteau, who will be playing at fly-half. The security breach has angered the tourists, who have gone to the extreme lengths of employing security guards to avoid prying eyes on previous tours to Australia. But Jim Williams, Australia's assistant coach, was yesterday quick to downplay the significance of the controversial pictures, insisting he has not looked at the photograph and answering "probably not" when asked if he plans to study the All Blacks' secrets.

"I wouldn't read too much into it and probably won't even bother looking at it - it's a picture of training and that's how I'll leave it," Williams said. "It's about how you prepare and what you want to do during the game." Pressed on his reaction if it had been a member of his coaching staff that was photographed, Williams replied: "We'd probably be looking at a groceries list." He added when asked if he will be more careful in future at open training sessions: "We prepare as best we can and considerations are taken about how the team prepares, where we train and what we do so I'm happy with those guidelines and how we go about things as a team. It's not going to make me take any extra precautions."

On the playing front Quade Cooper, the Australia fly-half, had his two-week ban for an illegal tackle upheld yesterday after a judicial panel dismissed his appeal. Cooper was suspended after being cited for lifting his opposite number Morne Steyn in a tackle during Australia's 30-13 win over South Africa in Brisbane on Saturday. Cooper will now miss Saturday's clash and the return match in Christchurch next week.

Meanwhile, Tri Nations champions South Africa, who have lost all of three of their games this year, were dealt another blow when Andries Bekker, their giant lock, was ruled out for the rest of the year with a back injury. The second-rower aggravated an old injury match against New Zealand earlier this month and will have surgery this week. * Agencies