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.Read more exclusive columns
Zinzan Brooke: The Lions No.8 options
Zinzan Brooke 10 May 2017 Getty Images
OPINION: ZINZAN BROOKE LOOKS AT THE 'LUCKY' LIONS SELECTIONS
First up, England No.8 Billy Vunipola. He’s had a solid Six Nations, but the Irish did snuff him out. Here’s the thing about Billy – you can gang tackle him because he’s not usually the first runner. Don’t get me wrong, when he gets it right he’s a hard guy to stop, but he needs other guys to slot in so he can play that second runner position. It’s fair to say he’s the frontline contender at this stage.
Ireland’s CJ Stander is another contender. He’s someone who I think looks quite comfortable at the bottom of the scrum, even though he usually plays some of his better rugby at flanker. There are a number of other contenders – other guys like Maro Itoje, Justin Tiperall for example – who are all good runners. But Stander is someone who I think can do a pretty good job at No.8 especially at scrum time.
You’ve also got Ross Moriarty, even though like CJ Stander he plays more of his rugby as a flanker. He definitely has the physical attributes to perform at the back of the scrum even though 2017 is only his third season at international level. Can he step up and force himself into the equation for the All Blacks matches? We’ll have to wait and see but he’s a definite candidate.
Sean O’Brien is another option and is packed with experience. He’s captained Ireland in the past, played in two Rugby World Cups and already has Lions experience with the 2013 team. He’s a good shout at No.8, but he’s only just coming back from a hamstring injury for Leinster, so we’ll have to watch how he performs.
Then there’s Welshman Taulupe Faletau, someone who I’ve already spoken about at length in a previous column. Let’s just say I can definitely see him as a No.8 in the midweek games, but I can’t see him getting a starting spot in the Tests unless there are injuries
It’s going to be a fascinating battle, but here’s hoping Read comes back fighting fit, and shows the skillset that makes him one of the most complete forwards in the game.
"Chicago counts for nothing for Lions" - @IrishRugby flanker Sean O'Brien.
READ: https://t.co/Yra2BHcBuk#LionsNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/0VjpNi29TP— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) May 9, 2017