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The Prime Minister has faced a barrage of questions on his way to caucus this morning over whether one of his ministers called the Australian Rugby team "f***ing cheats''.

A government minister was reported by an Australian newspaper - quoting an unnamed source - to have made the comment during the Wallabies clash with Italy at North Harbour stadium on Sunday.

"He was yelling out, 'f---ing cheats' and other offensive remarks, and then when the Wallabies started to get on top, he suddenly left,'' the newspaper quoted the source as saying.

One Australian Rugby Union representative asked an Auckland government official who the man was. "Sorry. I can't do much about it. He's a government minister,'' the official said.


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John Key fielded questions this morning ahead of his meeting with his MPs, confirming there were three Ministers at the game; Wayne Mapp, Maurice Williamson and Jonathan Coleman.

Mr Key said he had spoken to the three ministers and each had assured him they had not sworn and used abusive language.

"The report, as I understand it, said the minister left when Australia was getting on top, which was the early at of the second half, in fact all three ministers have assured me they fulfilled all of their hosting obligations and stayed for the entire game.''

Mr Key said he had also spoken to others who were in the box, and had been told the ministers behaviour was appropriate.

"It's worth putting a bit of perspective on this, this is an unnamed gossip columnist reporting a theoretical unnamed minister in a gossip column.''

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said he had not heard anyone being abusive or using the words 'f'ing cheats' - either of the three ministers or by anyone else.

"It was none of the three of us. I frankly think this is essentially a made-up story."


He said they had all enjoyed the game and stayed on to mingle with the hosts for half an hour or so afterward.

"We enjoyed being with our hosts and there's nothing to see here. "Everyone had a good time from what I could see."

Dr Coleman, Northcote MP and the Immigration Minister, categorically denied any bad language or behaviour on his part and said he did not witness anything from others either.

"There were three ministers there hosting. We were there throughout the match. Stayed on afterwards. We were seated in front of the Australian Rugby Union dignitaries. At the end of the game, turned round and chatted to John O'Neill and the other official with him so certainly didn't witness any bad behaviour.''

There was no booing or swearing from the official area that he heard.

"I've seen the report on the front of the Sydney Morning Herald and it is an unnamed source talking about an unnamed ministers.

"All I can be is accountable for my own behaviour and absolutely noting wrong was done or witnessed.''

Dr Coleman was involved in an incident in a corporate box early in his career when he was punched while smoking a cigar at a British American Tobacco corporate box at a U2 concert in 2006.

Asked if he was the one behaving badly, Mr Williamson said "I most certainly did not''.

"We enjoyed the match, there was nothing controversial about it, and we all stayed til well after the game was over as part of our hosting responsibilities.