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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: Pressure is on the All Blacks

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Zinzan Brooke     10 Nov 2018     Getty Images

It’s been four years in the making, so everyone is excited.

There seems to be an element of confidence among the rugby people over here that England could be up for an upset. I’m not sure about that. Some of them don’t know the game well enough!

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Even so, I think the pressure is far more on the All Blacks rather than England. The rugby gods will say the better team is the All Blacks, but I didn’t see that result coming at Twickenham last weekend when England edged the Springboks 12-11. South Africa were very poor, to say the least. So England alleviated a lot of pressure, not only on themselves but also on the coach Eddie Jones. I think they will chance their arm a bit more, having taken down one of the big three from downunder.

England was out of the game last weekend, but played well in the second spell and strangled the South Africans, who didn’t have an answer.

It all starts up front, like any big Test match, and England has to match us up front. Brodie Retallick will demonstrate his power and skills. I’m comfortable with what the All Blacks can do. They don’t need to change anything but just up the ante for the full 80 minutes.

This is a big step up for Brad Shields. Domestically in New Zealand, I thought he was fantastic. If any player knows the ins and outs of certain All Backs, it’s got to be him. His intel is going to be priceless for Jones and England. I think Shields will do what he can with his allround game, and especially his defence, but will it be enough?
Owen Farrell is a key man for England, but I can’t help but think they could have expanded their game if they had chosen Danny Cipriani for the autumn series. Perhaps he was left out due to his off-field issues. He’s certainly a unique individual, but he’s got the ability to do what Beauden Barrett can do for his team and change a game. I do feel that England has missed a trick in not having him in the squad.

The England bench is interesting. They have brought in Jack Nowell and Courtney Lawes. Nowell is a solid, allround player, as is Lawes, but you know the DNA of both those players. I don’t know if they can change the game. They are not impact players, like Ardie Savea was off the bench. Compare that to the All Blacks, where you have the likes of Coles, Scott Barrett, Perenara and Mo’unga in the high numbers.

I don’t have any concerns that the All Blacks midfield of Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue will be underdone. It will come down to processing things properly. Goodhue doesn’t need to be all fancy. SBW has been around the traps and knows he just needs to execute on the day. They’ll be right.

If the weather turns ugly, that may play into England’s hands. The All Blacks back three will get plenty of high balls. But Ben Smith has the ability to defuse those bombs and spark a counter-attack. Half a sniff and they will cause England a heap of problems.

It will be 37-18 to the All Blacks, but the only way that might even up is if the weather turns. Historically the All Blacks will be good for four tries.

I’ll be there at Twickenham, bringing a few customers. I’m sure it’ll be a great day.