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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OPINION: All Blacks can look forward to a refreshed Argentine Side

    28 Sep 2017    

What a difference a couple of weeks can make.

I watched that game up here in England and there was one thing from that game that made me happy more than anything else. Go back a few weeks earlier to the Bledisloe Cup opener against Australia. We took a 40-6 halftime lead and had the game in the bag. What frustrated the hell out of me, though, is how we leaked points as the second half wore on. Suddenly it became a 54-34 win and while a win is a win, champion sides open themselves up to champion levels of criticism. 

But that isn't what happened in Albany. The Springboks arrived with a huge reputation. They'd moved up to third in the world thanks to an unbeaten start to the year, including two wins and a draw in the Rugby Championship. Instead, the All Blacks gave them an absolute masterclass and gave them nothing. Zero. 57-0, to be exact. Defensively they shored themselves up big time and didn't allow the visitors a chance to leave the game with anything.

I almost feel a bit sad when it comes to talking about these games now. When I played in 1996 and we won the first test series in South Africa, you had to fight for it. To watch the All Blacks dish out a 57-0 hiding? It felt a bit surreal, really. They've got a big task ahead of them if they want to get anything out of the return clash. 

As do Argentina this weekend. They host an All Blacks side hissing after that win, followed by a week off. They've left some key personnel at home and to be honest, it's a masterstroke that is symbolic of how Steve Hansen and Graeme Henry have been operating over the last 10+ years.

We have to remind ourselves, and I'm sure the coaches and Kieran Read will be, that they won't have it their own way on Saturday. You only need to go back a few weeks to see we were down at halftime to these guys. With a relatively weakened side, the All Blacks will be in the Argentineans' sights. They won't see this blooding of new players as a sign of disrespect. They will be seeing it as a chance at history.

Saturday's game has plenty of motivation for both teams. A chance to give new players a chance to solidify their spot in the wider All Black mix, versus a chance at doing something no team has done before. A chance to throw players into the fire, versus a chance to come out with an iconic result.

It's going to be a huge match at home for the passionate Argentineans and their fans, and you can expect them to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the visitors on Saturday. You can bet Hugo Porta will be watching on hoping the new generation of Pumas can finally surpass that sole draw in 1986.

I'm really interested to see how these All Blacks back up from Albany. They will be fresh, fizzing and ready to go.

Here's hoping it's another black out in Buenos Aires!