Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen responds to rival's spying claims

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has fended off claims that the All Blacks had been spying on their England rivals in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals.

The accusations emerged from Tuesday's media conference, where England coach Eddie Jones insisted "someone" had been filmed their session from an apartment across the road from the Tokyo training ground.

"It might have been a Japanese fan," he quipped. "We knew from the start that they were filming and it doesn't change anything we do."

Jones admitted he had done the same during previous coaching stints, but had decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

While many assumed Jones' jibes were directed at his New Zealand opponents, Hansen has rejected that assumption.

"Eddie and I both know that all's fair in love and war," he told media on Thursday. "And there's nothing better in war than to throw a wee distraction out there.

"You guys [media] can't resist - it's the best clickbait in the world, someone's spying on us.

"He didn't call out us and he was very deliberate in that. He talked about it being somebody else - probably the same bloke that videoed us during the time we were there.

"But everyone's jumped on it and he's been successful in getting the clickbait he wants."

Hansen and Jones have a close relationship, and the All Blacks mastermind admitted they had shared texts over the past couple of days, although not on this particular subject matter.

Australian-born Jones has proved himself a master at pre-match banter and has been in rare form during this week's preparations.

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"There'll be a big more tonight, won't there," said Hansen. "There's a reason why our press conference is now and his is five o'clock, so I'll look forward to reading it.

"It's been good, it's allowed us to have a good laugh and be relaxed."

Hansen reiterated that Jones had stopped short of blaming the New Zealand camp for spying.

"He didn't make anything up," he said. "What he said - and he's very particularly about what he said - was that somebody filmed training.

"He didn't say New Zealand did it - you guys [media] did that, you jumped on that bandwagon. It's quite clever.

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"It's only a mind game if you buy into and we're not buying into it. It's allowed us to have a good laugh."

Jones' claims seem to be an attempt to build pressure on the All Blacks, who are trying to win their third straight World Cup crown, following successes in 2011 and 2015. 

"The reality is both teams have got pressure on them - different types of pressure," said Hansen. "If we win this game, we will be attempting to do something that's never been done before.

"Logic would say we shouldn't be favourites to do it. That brings it's own pressure, which Eddie has highlighted.

"But you've got a team [England] that has come out of a previous tournament and not been as successful as they wanted to be. Now they've built themselves up for four years to do this job.

"That brings its own pressure - a different type of pressure, but it's still pressure."

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us at 9pm Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v England Rugby World Cup semi-final.

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