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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: Acid goes on pack trio to handle the heat

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Zinzan Brooke     19 Jul 2019     Getty Images

That trio have not necessarily set the world alight in Super Rugby 2019, so this is a big chance to show their mettle against a powerful-looking Pumas outfit and press their Rugby World Cup claims.

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They’ll need to put some steel armour on as the Argies will come at them hard, especially playing at home. If the Pumas can control their discipline and temper, they have a real chance before their vocal fans. They are very passionate in Buenos Aires at that ground, so that first 20 minutes will be very interesting to see how the All Blacks cope with the fire. I just think the pressure is on.

Fifita, Tuipulotu and Tuungafasi might be a bit short of a gallop and performances – that Crusaders v Hurricanes semifinal set the benchmark in Super Rugby – so now is the time to shine. What a great way, go to Buenos Aires, get stuck right in the firing line and have to answer the question: if you want to go to Rugby World, can you withstand this heat?

It’s a good All Blacks side, but it’s untested at Test match level, with several rookies in the mix. I would just try and do the basics, be polished and execute.

Ardie Savea is at No 8, and I’m more than comfortable with him there. He’s done the job before and is such an energetic guy. He’s quick off the base of the scrum and seems to understand the role of the No 8. I love his enthusiasm and impact off the bench. This is a different story starting, but he’ll be fine.
The Jaguares were very impressive in Super Rugby, making the final for the first time. Now they have to build on that. We’ve seen swift development of Argentine rugby in recent years. There is more breadth to their game – they play expansive, effective rugby now. Most of that Jaguares team is now in the Pumas, so we can expect them to again be very competitive in this Rugby Championship, after winning two games in 2018.

Steve Hansen knows the score. He wasn’t being disrespectful to Argentina with his comments that the Rugby Championship was No 3 on the All Blacks’ priorities this year behind the Rugby World Cup and Bledisloe Cup. You want to make sure that the 31 players have earned the right to go to Japan.

We’ve even seen that in the Six Nations, where coaches have trialled players in big Test matches. The fact Hansen has made a few changes doesn’t make this a weak All Blacks side by any means. Rassie Erasmus did the same with his selection for the Springboks against the Wallabies this weekend.

The World Cup is the bigger goal and I can tell you we haven’t won it yet. There is an element of confidence around the Northern Hemisphere that a Wales, England or Ireland can spoil the party.

But for the All Blacks, it all starts this weekend.