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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Shades of Robin Brooke in Scott Barrett

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Zinzan Brooke     26 Jun 2018     Getty Images

You could have him and Brodie Retallick in the second-row and not lose much, with all due respect to Sam Whitelock.


Barrett’s work-rate and the way he chucked his body around, especially in those first 20 minutes in Dunedin, when there were plenty of questions asked, was just superb. Barrett is not the finished article, but he’s very close to it.

Funnily enough, he reminds me a bit of my brother Robin. He doesn’t get a lot of accolades, he scrums, makes tackles, gets the lineout ball, doesn’t make any mistakes.

It was good to see that Retallick was not rushed back from his injury, because Barrett’s form was that good. But Retallick will be buzzing when the Rugby Championship kicks off. Kieran Read should be back then too.

Overall, the French series was a bit closer than the scorelines would suggest. Fair play to the French. They are still a dangerous side.

Everyone is chasing the All Blacks. You don’t want to lose any games, but maybe the All Blacks will drop one or two in the Rugby Championship. There was a wobble in that Second Test in Wellington, but when you consider the number of new, young players, I was, overall, delighted with the All Blacks.

The Third Test mirrored the First Test in many ways, the proverbial game of two halves. The French started at pace and chucked the kitchen sink at the All Blacks, but they eventually succumbed to the pressure. Something had to break. 

You cannot have moments where you switch off. Maybe the long season told in the end for France. But they were very good in the first half.

I didn’t feel that was the correct decision when the referee awarded the first try to Damian McKenzie after obstructing Baptiste Serin. It staggered me that he came to that call after watching it on the big screen. That was a great line by McKenzie, but he had some unintentional help. It was 21-14 at halftime. If it had been 14-all at the break, would things have been different? Still, the All Blacks and their debutants stayed composed, which was a good sign.

Rieko Ioane was on fire. You have to make sure you look after him, but he’s a special individual and up there with the best. He assesses the situation and I liked what he did on the blindside for that try in the First Test. At a young age, he feels it and I was really pleased for him. Long may it continue. We want more of those tries in next year’s Rugby World Cup.

In general, I would like to see more plays worked off the scrum. When you consider the strength of that All Blacks scrum, use that as a platform to cut these teams to pieces. At the moment we are trying to milk penalties for a free kick. Get the attack running flat and at pace. I never see much of the old 8-9-15 move. We would use myself, Justin Marshall and Christian Cullen going right. That defensive No 8 will never get to the halfback off the scrum. You’ll never catch a fullback going full tilt. 

We have a good scrum. We just need to use it more to attack.