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: Do not underestimate France

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Zinzan Brooke     09 Nov 2017     Getty Images

There have been plenty of questions around the state of French rugby heading into a fairly important clash for them against the All Blacks this weekend. I'll offer my two cents on how I think France are tracking in a minute, but first let's just briefly touch on the Barbarians game.


To be honest, I thought it was a pretty decent performance at Twickers. The game went to plan for the visitors but you just knew the Baabaas were there to play, even against a weakened visiting team.

It was a fairly open game and those three quick tries within 10 minutes gave the All Blacks the breathing space they needed. The Baabaas were great in that opening half, but boy it's hard to keep that intensity up for 80 minutes against anyone let alone the world's best side.

And so we turn from the sublime to the ridiculous. There have been quite a few pieces up here recently worrying about the state of French rugby and to be quite honest, it's pretty easy to see why. I tend to think of French rugby as the Harlem Globetrotters with the style they play. And while there are plenty of classy players, hardly any of them are eligible for the national side. It's not a crisis, but the governing board's lack of control over the Top 14 means the Southern Hemisphere guys are getting all the chocolates, while the local players watch from the pine.

The future doesn't look too bad. The Under-20 French team has been showing some promise, but it's that development from youth to full international where there are serious concerns.
But if there's anything we have learned in the last 20-odd years, do not underestimate France. If you've mentally popped the champagne bottles before kick-off, Les Bleus will capitalise. They are the only side I know of that don't know the game they're bringing until they run out onto the field.

There's only one way for this All Black team to play this weekend – ruthlessly. If they manage to put the foot on the French throats for the first 20 minutes, the hosts could very much go off the boil.

For me, it's hard to go past another All Blacks win this weekend even against the unpredictable hosts. It could be a tight one if France make a game of it, but I'm still expecting the visitors to come away with a decent 20-point plus victory in Paris.

Here's hoping it's going to be a tight game, and one the French team of 1987 - who I caught up with earlier this week - would be proud about.