Sydney — A security consultant accused of planting a listening device in a hotel used by the All Blacks said he was innocent Thursday, insisting he knew nothing about the "stupid bloody bug".
Adrian Gard, who has worked with the New Zealanders for several years, was charged this week with bugging their hotel before last year’s Sydney Test against Australia, raising tension between the teams.
The 51-year-old, who has reportedly protected Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey in the past, denied any involvement.
"I don’t know anything about this stupid bloody bug," he told the Sydney Daily Telegraph after being charged with public mischief.
"The bug was news to me. I literally had no idea about it until I was told about it.
"I’m really annoyed about the whole thing to tell you the truth. I’m just going to ride the next few months out, the truth will come out in the end.
"People who work with me can vouch for my reputation," he said.
He is due in court on March 21.
The device, planted inside a chair, was found during a routine team security sweep of a meeting room used by the New Zealanders before the opening Rugby Championship Test in August.
It was described as similar to that used by law enforcement and spying agencies. The incident dominated headlines on the day of the game, which the All Blacks won 42-8.
Earlier this week, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen called the charge "bizarre and unbelievable".
"It’s very hard to understand," he said. "The charged man has worked for the All Blacks, and many other organisations, for a long time and is someone who is trusted and well respected by us."
Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said the scandal had left a "bitter taste" after the story broke on the morning of the Test, despite the bug reportedly being found five days earlier.
Despite the scandal, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika on Wednesday rejected suggestions that relations between Australian and New Zealand rugby were at their lowest ebb.