All Black captain Kieran Read has spoken in defence of Adrian Gard, the team contractor on trial in Sydney for allegedly lying about finding a bug in the team hotel last year.
Read was called as a character witness, giving evidence via telephone from the Intercontinental Hotel in Double Bay - the same hotel where the All Blacks were staying when the bugging scandal broke last year.
Mr Read said he'd known Mr Gard since he first entered the All Blacks. He knew the security contractor as 'Gardy' and described him as "a pretty good man".
"He's loyal to us and honest, so the guys really respect what he does," said Mr Read.
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Mr Gard said he found the listening device after the hotel was swept for bugs by a contractor using specialist equipment. Two chairs were set aside for examination after returning suspicious results.
He pulled one apart in his hotel room, where he claimed to find a basic FM transmitter hidden in the seat cushion of the chair. Police allege the bug was never there.
Another defence witness, Professor Richard Buckland, said he couldn't rule out Mr Gard's claim the bug had been concealed in a hotel chair.
The initial bug sweep used an expensive device called a 'non-linear junction detector', which can detect bugs whether or not they’re switched on.
"That suggested there was a good chance it had been in the chair, but there was also a good chance it wasn't in the chair. It's very hard to tell from this sort of test," said Mr Buckland.
Police allege the bug was 'found' somewhere different from where the detector suggested it would be.
But Mr Buckland said the reading could've been consistent with a bug hidden anywhere in the chair.
"Being present in one location might cause it to be detected in other locations as well," he said.
Mr Read is the only All Blacks player to give evidence in the five-day trial, just a day before his team takes the field for this year's first Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney.
Before he finished, defence lawyer Anthony Kimmins used a court procedure known as re-examination to deliver a message to Mr Read.
"Just one matter arising," Mr Kimmins said. "Best of luck tomorrow, Mr Read."