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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: Savea and loosies can be flexible

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Zinzan Brooke     09 Aug 2019     Getty Images

I was posed the question: do you think Ardie will play the traditional No 6’s game? Well, the way Ardie has played all year is the reason he has been selected – his energy has been immense and he’s made a difference in every game I’ve seen him. He’s been one of the most effective impact players I have seen for a long time, and it was almost like he was pigeonholed as a replacement in Test rugby in previous years. Starting will be different in this position, but the All Blacks need him.

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You’d think the All Blacks will command the loose ball with no David Pocock there, but will they use Sam Cane and Savea in a two-flanker game, not worrying about openside and blindside? Maybe Kieran Read will pack on the side and Ardie at the back for the odd scrum. Savea’s explosive power needs to be respected and utilised to get over the advantage line and generate momentum to silence the Aussie crowd which I’m sure will be in full force.

I have no qualms with Dane Coles winning the hooker’s berth ahead of Codie Taylor. Coles has created a niche for himself with that pace and when he’s in open space he’s pretty good to watch. Taylor is a good carrier, solid defender and good at set-piece, but it might be more of an open game against Australia. There isn’t a huge difference between the two, but the key is that the replacement, in this case Taylor, must make the impact off the bench.

I’m sure James O’Connor wasn’t just chucked in at centre by Australia without any planning. They would have forewarned him. But this is a challenge and they have to see how it turns out. It might be a masterstroke.
I think there’s a bit of pressure on both teams. The Argentina match was scratchy, South Africa was physical. The All Blacks will want to be ruthless and lift their game. The Wallabies have to win this to stay alive in the Bledisloe Cup. But I reckon it’ll be 10-12 points in favour of the All Blacks.

The All Blacks will be inspired by the memory of Sir Brian Lochore. God rest his soul. He was a fantastic man for a young All Black. He was a real rock on that All Blacks’ coaching panel in 1987 with ‘Grizz’ Wyllie and John Hart. BJ was able to bring the best of both men out at that time with the All Blacks and combined that into a game plan that worked.

The heat was on after 1986, the Cavaliers tour and the loss in Nantes. The Baby Blacks were born and set a platform in upsetting France earlier in 1986. That kauri seed was sown then for the side that went to the World Cup.

I recall when we were billeted in the Wairarapa during that World Cup and that was fantastic, connecting the All Blacks to the people. BJ was a great man.