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.

Read more exclusive columns

Zinzan Brooke: Time for me to tuck into some humble pie

Getty Images

Zinzan Brooke     16 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Two wins out of four to start the series, even though the first was a stodgy one against the BaaBaas.

The game against the Highlanders was an absolute cracker for the hosts, but you've got to question how the Lions couldn't put the game to bed 22-13 up with just over 20 minutes to play. That'll be a real concern for Warren Gatland as he continues to make his mind up around his Test side.
 Speaking of the Test side, it's time for me to tuck in to a bit of humble pie. I've pretty openly criticised Taulupe Faletau as not having that bit of mongrel you need to play the All Blacks, but if I had to choose the Test side he'd definitely be in with a good crack. He's played very well in the games he's been chosen for and it's no surprise he's been picked for the Lions for Saturday's game against the Maori All Blacks.

It's an interesting time for Warren Gatland. On the one hand he needs key combinations to get some much-needed game time, but on the other he can't afford to show too much too early. It's pretty clear he wants to put a strong side out against the Maori All Blacks, and he has done so with the impressive centre pairing of Ben Teo and Jonathan Davies. Gatland has said it's a shadow team, but this combination is one to watch out for.

One area that's already had a bit of discussion is the difference in scrummaging between the Northern Hemisphere and Super Rugby teams. I've got two points on this.

Firstly, regardless of the clash of styles, the Lions need to up the ante after being exposed in that last 20 minutes against the Highlanders. Steve Borthwick and Graham Rowntree have got to get the visitors back in the engine room and make sure the scrums are ready for a Maori side that are international-level quality.

Second, and perhaps a bit more importantly, we need to be thinking more about the purpose of scrums. Some of these sides need to clear the ball off the back when it becomes available, rather than hang onto it for penalties. Individuals and tight fives don't want to go down most of the time and want that fair contest. I say if the scrum collapses when the ball is at the back of the scrum, play on and forget about playing for the penalty. Some referees already do this but this needs to be addressed.

And so to the Maori All Blacks clash. I don't need to tell you how important this one is for Gatland and co. In the end, it's a statement game and if there's any hope of the Lions beating the All Blacks, they need to keep building combinations, and continue to choke opposition teams with that rush defence.

This one is easily the biggest game so far of the tour. Rotorua is set for an absolute cracker and it's going to be one helluva battle.