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NZ coach laughs at England’s ‘spy’ talk ahead of Rugby W-Cup s-final

Hansen says Jones playing mind games with claim of his training being filmed

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has laughed off spying claims by England counterpart Eddie Jones and repeated his own assertions that the Australian likes to play mind games before big matches.

Jones told reporters that England had seen someone filming their training session in Tokyo on Tuesday ahead of their World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks, though he did not accuse the New Zealanders of being the culprits.

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"Eddie and I both know it's all fair in love and war," Hansen told a media conference yesterday, after naming his side for tomorrow's semi-final at Yokohama Stadium.

"And Eddie knows in a time of war that you throw out a bit of distraction for you guys (the media) to deal with. Best clickbait in the world, 'someone is spying on us'.

"He didn't say it was us. He was very deliberate in doing that. He talked about it being someone else, probably a fan. But everyone has jumped on it. (He) has been very clever."

Hansen added that he and Jones exchanged text messages and "laughed" at the claims and the stories about the pair's mind games ahead of the semi-final.

"It's a mind game only if you buy into it," Hansen said. "As I said, it's allowed us to have a good laugh."

The Kiwi also dismissed suggestions in some quarters that the All Blacks are under more pressure than Jones' side, given they are the two-time defending champions.

"I have talked about pressure since I have been All Blacks coach," he said. "Early in our history, we probably ran away from it and... let it chase us down the street."

Jones, meanwhile, has reverted to his twin playmaker approach by recalling George Ford at flyhalf and shifting Owen Farrell to centre.

That had been his approach in the pool phase, but he dropped Ford to the bench for the quarter-final win over Australia.

Henry Slade drops to the bench, with Manu Tuilagi moving to outside centre.

The only other change is on the bench, where Mark Wilson replaces Lewis Ludlam as back row cover.

"When you get to this stage of the World Cup, it is all about focusing on being in the moment and getting yourself physically right," Jones said.

England have beaten New Zealand only once in their last 16 meetings, though the last game between them was a close one as the All Blacks came from 15-0 down to win 16-15 at Twickenham a year ago.

They last reached the final in 2007, losing to South Africa, while New Zealand are seeking a third successive title and have not lost a World Cup game since the 2007 quarter-finals. - AFP

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