By Jamie Pandaram of the Daily Telegraph
Unfazed by one of the most scandalous episodes in rugby history, the All Blacks will return to stay in the same Sydney hotel they believe they were "bugged" in last year.
The Daily Telegraph today reported the New Zealand team will base themselves at the Intercontinental in Double Bay before the first Bledisloe Cup match against Australia on August 19.
Last year on the morning of their Bledisloe win over the Wallabies, the story broke from NZME, of how a listening device was apparently found in the All Blacks' team meeting room at the hotel, leading to bitter division between the two camps.
It led to a NSW Police investigation that culminated in a charge of public mischief laid against the All Blacks' own security consultant, Adrian Gard, with the suggestion he planted the device himself and then found it.
Gard will fight the charge in court on August 7, a week before the All Blacks arrive in Sydney, and there remains the possibility the Kiwis will retain Gard's services if he is cleared of wrongdoing.
The All Blacks would not comment on whether they'd use Gard again this year because they don't publicise operational matters.
But the world champions clearly have no concerns about the security of the Intercontinental itself, and have resisted making a request to SANZAAR to change their accommodation arrangements this year.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was left seething after the drama last year, particularly the implication that he or his staff had been involved in any bugging.
NSW Police detectives visited the ARU offices to interview staff members over the matter, though chief executive Bill Pulver said later nobody at his organisation was ever a person of interest in the case.
Six months after the game-day bombshell came the stunning announcement from police they were charging Gard, who had been employed by the All Blacks for the last decade, looking after their security arrangements in Australia.
Gard has also acted as a personal bodyguard for Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.
The listening device was found in a chair in the meeting room the All Blacks used to discuss strategy and selection.
Initially it was reported to be a hi-tech device used by spy agencies, but later revealed to be a radio transmitter powered by a nine-watt battery that had such a weak signal it would have struggled to pick up usable sound.
The device is readily available to buy online for less than $130.
While the All Blacks will continue to enjoy the lavish surrounds of Double Bay this year, the Wallabies will make a radical change to their accommodation plans.
For the first time, Australia will base themselves in the western Sydney heartland of Penrith the week of the Test at ANZ Stadium.
The Wallabies usually stay in the city or eastern suburbs, but in a bid to engage with long-neglected fans in the west, they'll hit the streets of Penrith and even run water for Emus juniors at a gala day the weekend before they begin their Rugby Championship campaign.
The Wallabies have not held the Bledisloe since 2002.