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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France more dangerous than ever - Brooke

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Zinzan Brooke     22 Jun 2018     Getty Images

There were a few speed bumps in the capital after such a dominant second half in Auckland. I guess it would have been tough to better that performance, and unfortunately they didn’t. The All Blacks still looked rusty in Wellington.

In talking to a few mates up here, I had a feeling there would be a few changes for this Third Test. I think that’s a good thing. It places pressure on some of these young guys and the two starting test debutants, and there’s still a lot to play for with a Rugby World Cup just around the corner.

France may feel there is little to play for, but that is when they can be dangerous. They might think ‘Let’s have a party!’ It was a bit of a downer for the French when went down to 14 men, so they will be wounded. But they did really well considering they were down on manpower. The French have only made a couple of changes, so this could well go either way. I found it interesting that they dropped their captain Mathieu Bastareaud, but they needed to bring someone else in to give thrust to their midfield.

You’ll know in the first 10 or 15 minutes if the French are up for it. That was the case in the first two Test matches.

The Second Test was the most unusual match I have seen in a while. I expected more polish from the All Blacks after running out the cobwebs in Auckland. It’s about matching the French physicality and minimising the mistakes. It was strange watching an unchanged All Blacks team, for the first time in three years, look a completely different outfit to the one that finished so much on top in Auckland.

They need to go route one, control the set-piece and go up the middle. The French pack had the wood on the All Blacks at times and the last thing you want to do is give them confidence or they will run you ragged.

Damian McKenzie has got the nod at No 10 and I think he can do the job. The key point is that he has got the support of good men around him, like Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock and Sonny Bill Williams. They should take a bit of pressure off McKenzie. But he is an exciting prospect and is a delight to watch, much like Beauden Barrett. He did some good things in Wellington. Fast forward to a Rugby World Cup and you need to have the belief that he can do the job. Same with Richie Mo’unga, who is a replacement. He’s a talent as well.
But the message has to be clear: the All Blacks need to do the business up front and not waste any possession.

I try and make my predictions based on what I see, but I have a gut feeling the French will be up for this in what should be an expansive game under the roof in Dunedin. So I’m picking a margin of seven or eight in the All Blacks’ favour, maybe a scoreline of 35-27.