Joe Schmidt believes his team has been spied on in the past.

Just days ahead of Ireland’s 2019 Six Nations opener with England at the Aviva Stadium, the head coach revealed his suspicions.

Ireland are one of a number of sides who no longer take part in the traditional captain’s run, a final training session at the match venue, at the opposition’s stadium.

Schmidt’s comments come in the wake of the controversy that broke out in English soccer with Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa admitting that he has sent spies to gather information on all of his opponents and their training sessions.

"I would have to say that I'm not a believer in it," Schmidt said, speaking to the Telegraph newspaper. "I don't think that it's necessary. I would still like to think there is a sense of fair play. I love some of the amateur values that still exist in rugby. But I know it happens. I know it's happened to us."

"It's happened a couple of times. I think when it filters back you are disappointed but you kind of acknowledge, 'OK, it's their process. It's their way of collecting information'. You just shrug your shoulders."

Schmidt says he believes Ireland have been spied on on a number of occasions, though declined to reveal what evidence he has.

"I don't think you can get distracted by it," he noted.

"And if you became paranoid about it you'd never train properly. You'd always be worried by somebody looking. We always say, 'If they spy on us but we do it well enough, maybe, we'll still be able to get a result'."