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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: Refocusing for a ‘potential banana skin’

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Zinzan Brooke     27 Oct 2018     Getty Images

They lost this game last year (in Brisbane). It doesn’t really matter where they are playing. It’s more the fact that the Bledisloe Cup is already wrapped up. I wouldn’t call it a ‘dead rubber’, as such, as there will be a lot of pride and passion from both teams. But it would be a different story if it was 1-1. That is probably partly why they have made several changes, and brought guys back from injury.

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The guys will have to refocus after Pretoria, so they must perform individually and collectively and look to do a clean sweep. The Australians will be desperate to avoid a whitewash. So this is about the silver fern above your left breast.

I was interested to see that Damian McKenzie is starting in the No 15 jersey. He reminds me, in the way he moves, of Christian Cullen. Cully used to glide on the ground. It was beautiful to watch. McKenzie has his little step as well and plays with ambition.

That’s what I love about this All Blacks side. They can make a few changes and normally you might hold your breath, but they have clocked up so much experience and built depth, that they can deliver. McKenzie has sat on the bench for many of his 20 Tests, but he’s well equipped, so he will weave his magic. The potency of this All Blacks backline will cause the Wallabies headaches.

Sonny Bill Williams plays his 50th Test and that is a deserved honour. He’s been a stalwart in that All Blacks side. He’s had some injuries, but he’s done well. He will probably mark Israel Folau on the one-way defence, so that should be some match-up.
Liam Squire needs to throw some punches out there, not literally of course, but he needs to make an impact from the get-go after returning from injury. He is a big man who carries well, but he just needs to look after his blind side. I have seen him exposed there on at least one occasion, being nutmegged from an 8-9 off a scrum. So hopefully he can tighten up his defence in that area.

Good on TJ Perenara for winning another start. He’s waited in the wings, and now he has a sniff. I’m not fazed at his elevation. Both he and Aaron are outstanding and TJ deserves a shot at the title.

This Test will be about getting into the game first and controlling it. But the All Blacks will take great confidence in the quality of their bench. They know the likes of Nepo Laulala, Aaron Smith, Matt Todd and Brodie Retallick can all do a job later in the clash. We have rock stars in the high numbers.

I reckon it’ll be a high scoring affair, an absolute belter, 42-33 to the All Blacks. You get those sometimes.

*I cannot let this column pass without a shout-out to my old team. I wish Auckland all the best in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final against Canterbury. I’ve been taking some heat over here for a number of years, people telling me Auckland and the Blues are broken. But I told them they will turn the corner, so hopefully this weekend. Eleven years is a long time between drinks. I was lucky enough to win eight NPCs. I was amazed to hear it was free entry, but that is a fantastic initiative. Hopefully they can fill most of the stadium.