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Zinzan Brooke

Brooke played for the All Blacks between 1987 and 1997, playing 58 tests and 42 matches. Across the 100 matches, Brooke scored 195 points, made up of 42 tries and three drop goals. He is considered one of the best number eights to have ever played for the All Blacks with running and kicking skills of a back along with the strength and mobility of a great loose forward.

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Zinzan Brooke: Both sides will step up a gear

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Zinzan Brooke     23 Aug 2017     Getty Images

I’ve been speaking with some ex-England players who watched the game and they’ve got smiles on their faces. They were impressed with the All Blacks’ first half, which I would say is one of the best 40 minutes I’ve seen, but what made it even sweeter for them was the Wallabies’ four quick tries in the second half. 

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People here in London believe the All Blacks have a feeling of comfort with their opponents at the moment. Sure, when you put on over 50 points you’re allowed to feel that way, but it can come back and bite you. That’s what happened in Sydney, and the Wallabies were able to take a bit of the shine off a polished All Blacks performance.

The northern hemisphere sides will lock that second half away as an example of where the All Blacks can potentially trip up in tighter games. But let’s be honest here, this was an incredible performance.

You’ve got to pay tribute to the execution from the likes of Ryan Crotty, Beauden Barrett – even the big boys who split open the Australian defence. They were relentless, clinical and left the hosts for dead in the first half.

There’s not much Michael Cheika can say when you’re down 6-40, but you’ve got to give them credit for those four second-half tries. That showed a touch of spine, resilience and fight. They’ll be ditching the first half and banking the second.
One of the All Blacks’ biggest strengths at the moment is their composure on attack. There were a couple of times in that game where they went back around 15 to 20 metres, but they stayed composed, absorbed the pressure, then stepped it up and applied their own. That’s a huge tribute to the senior leaders and the ever-impressive Kieran Read.

Moving on to Dunedin and Forsyth Barr Stadium this Saturday, and you can definitely see both sides stepping it up a gear. You could argue both sides head into Saturday’s game having won a half each. The dry track and minimal wind will see both sides throw the ball around, but it’s upstairs where the Wallabies will need to be match fit. They won’t want to concede 50 points twice in a row in Bledisloe Cup matches, and trying to stay within 10 points by halftime should also be up the priority list.

Meanwhile the All Blacks looked comfortable in Sydney and have some incredible strike weapons like Barrett, Crotty and Aaron Smith at the base of the ruck.

It’s going to be an interesting start to the game and I’m pretty confident the All Blacks will show their intentions in the first five minutes. From there you can expect the Wallabies to go after parity in the forwards and set piece, but it’s going to be a significant sorting-out period in that first 10 minutes.

Given how dynamic the All Blacks looked in the opening game, I’m excited with what they can bring on Saturday. Bring on the Bledisloe!