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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: RWC final dress rehearsal?

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Zinzan Brooke     17 Nov 2018     Getty Images

I thought the better team lost actually, to be fair. I liked a lot of what England did, but I was scratching my head as to how they were 15-0 up after 25 minutes. There were a few lapses by the All Blacks, with the ease with which England scored their tries. I think Rieko Ioane came off his line for the Chris Ashton try, while England showed muscularity in driving us back for the other one.

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But winning ugly is fine as well. I get 20 messages a day on WhatsApp saying Courtney Lawes was not offside. I reply, ‘No, he was offside.’ Many of them just don’t know the rules.

It was an encouraging comeback by the All Blacks, but I thought England also didn’t take all their opportunities. It was a cracking game, but I would think the All Blacks have dusted themselves off because this one is going to be even harder.

Talking to a lot of my Irish mates, there is a lot of confidence in Ireland, and the feel-good factor is going to be huge. The All Blacks will be playing against 16 men, the 16th being the crowd at Aviva. They will be very bullish and vocal.

It’s going to be a helluva game, and this is a prime chance for Ireland to make a statement to the world. This could be a dress rehearsal for the Rugby World Cup final next year. They will die for the green jersey. Joe Schmidt knows what this Irish team can deliver. Everyone in Ireland loves Joe Schmidt.
The Irish scrum, with Tadgh Furlong as the anchor, is a real strength, as they showed against the Pumas, so I would like to steer the All Blacks away from challenging them there. Just use little 8-9s, simple rugby. We don’t need to beat ourselves up about it. As long as we can square them off on their ball, we’ll be fine. Just play, attack them elsewhere, and see if Ireland can stay with us for 80 minutes. We have enough quality and just need to show that patience with the ball. Small margins within this game will be game-changing.

I see that Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are playing their 50th Test together, surpassing my brother Robin and Ian Jones as our most capped locking combo.

Both are immense on the field as individuals and collectively. Their lineout combination is fantastic. Whitelock has been monumental for nearly a decade, while Retallick is a like a giant centipede with the way he goes about his work. I love his work-rate. I wish them all the best. Records are there to be broken. Hopefully they can do enough to get the win but they will have to fight it out because the Irish will be more than up for it.

I’ve been thinking about my score prediction and I had this knot in my gut. I was thinking Ireland could beat them, producing the ultimate game. But I just cannot bring myself to plump for Ireland, so I’m going to back the All Blacks by 3-6 points.