The British and Irish Lions have asked their security team to sweep their hotel rooms for listening devices in an effort to eradicate the risk of espionage ahead of the first test against New Zealand on Saturday.
The regular searches of the rooms for bugging devices are being carried out by a four-man team from security firm Veritas, who worked with the Lions on the 2009 and 2013 tours, to South Africa and Australia.
“We have a security team who are very experienced in this,” Lions chief executive John Feehan said.
“They are experts in electronic surveillance, to ensure that we are not being looked at or listened to.
“The team room, for example, is swept regularly and no one is allowed in there unless they are part of the squad.
“If there is any suspicion at all they will do another sweep.” There is no suggestion that the All Blacks would be involved in such underhand tactics.
The Lions, however, are wise not to take any chances after the row that erupted between the New Zealand and Australian unions last August, when a listening device was located in a room at a hotel in Sydney where the All Blacks were staying ahead of their Bledisloe Cup match.
Accusations of spying between international teams are nothing new. At the 2015 World Cup, England were wrongly accused of spying on Australia, while the 2005 Lions squad on their tour of New Zealand were adamant that their lineout codes had been cracked ahead of the first test. They changed them at the last minute, with disastrous results.