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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Marshall rejects streaker claims
All Blacks scrum-half Justin Marshall looks on as two streakers invade the pitch during the Tri-Nations clash
Marshall (left) had a good view of the incident
New Zealand scrum-half Justin Marshall has rejected speculation that two "sponsored" streakers might have cost his side victory in their Tri-Nations match against Australia.

Two male streakers bearing the Vodafone logo invaded the pitch during a tense second half as the All Blacks slipped to a last-minute defeat in Sydney's renamed Telstra Stadium.

They ran around New Zealand fly-half Andrew Mehrtens as he prepared to take a crucial penalty kick, which he then missed after a delay while the duo were removed by security.


I don't think it was the difference between him getting the kick over or not
Justin Marshall

The All Blacks went on to lose the match 16-14 after Matt Burke's injury-time penalty winner, but Marshall insists Mehrtens was unruffled by the pranksters' antics.

"There was a bit of a racket in the crowd and obviously we knew something was going on when we saw a couple of guys come on," he told BBC Sport Online.

"But in terms of it upsetting our rhythm, I can't say that it did.

"I had a look around at some of my team-mates and there was a smile on their faces, and I thought it was reasonably amusing.

"In terms of the flow of the game, I don't think it really upset us, and 'Mehrts' hasn't mentioned anything about it.

"He is usually pretty vocal about things if they upset him, so he would definitely have mentioned it.

"But I don't think it was the difference between him getting the kick over or not."

Police are considering criminal action against Vodafone's chief executive after he admitted he encouraged a plan to disrupt the match.

Matthew Burke kicked Australia to glory
Australia won with a late kick from Matthew Burke

Grahame Maher, head of the Australian arm of the British-based Vodafone Group plc, said a man had told him he might pull an illegal stunt which would give the company publicity.

"We said whatever you want to do, if it is good for us we would love to be involved," Maher told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

New South Wales police have charged 22-year-old Brett Mutton with three offences including "wilful and obscene exposure".

The other streaker, 25-year-old New Zealander Aaron Bain, received on the spot fines for indecency and entering the playing field.

International exposure

But NSW Police Superintendent Commander Allan Wilson said that Vodafone could face significant penalties if it was proved the company had "incited criminal action".

"There are appropriate laws, appropriate penalties as well, in relation to anyone who incites or encourages any criminal offences so that law is in place and we wish to have that as a deterrent in future," he said.

"I think it's bad publicity for the game itself and I think that what went on was an unlawful stunt, if that's the reasoning behind it, but that's yet to be determined."

Maher said he had agreed to pay any fines the streakers incurred for their stunt at the old Olympic Stadium in Sydney, which is now sponsored by rivals Telstra.

"He said he had some ideas about what he could do to get some international television exposure at Telstra Stadium, and if he did and it cost a fine would I pay it?" Maher added.

"I said sure, and lo and behold it then happened."

Maher said he now regrets his decision to encourage the man, who he knew only as "Brett", and stressed he did not know what he had planned.


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