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: Expect much better from the All Blacks

Getty Images

Zinzan Brooke     26 Jul 2019     Getty Images

It was inadequate and the guys would know that. A top side would not let you off the hook and I was surprised that Argentina did not close out that game in the dying stages. The Pumas had several opportunities and I genuinely thought the All Blacks were going to lose it when the Pumas had that last attacking lineout.
I felt the expansiveness of the way they played against the Pumas was not needed before they had got on top in the pack. They had several rookies and just needed to play it simpler. Don’t complicate it. Go back to route one and build a base. That normal, expansive game played by the top All Blacks side doesn’t happen overnight. It is built through combinations and cohesiveness over a long period of time. Last weekend they got a bit ahead of themselves and that may have been unsettling for the newbies and incumbents.

The self-assessment last Monday would have been brutal.

I would like to think the All Blacks will be better on Saturday night. The home advantage should count for something, but you’ve got to be mindful of the fact the All Blacks have question marks over them. The Boks will be confident. Rassie Erasmus sent half his team to Wellington earlier to prepare properly and acclimatise.

But the All Blacks look to have a stronger team, changing out the whole of the front-row and two of the back-row. We know how the Crusaders go, and they deserve to be the champs of Super Rugby, but this is a step up now. This is a Test match and these guys need to ensure they deliver and execute. I haven’t seen that much of Shannon Frizell at All Blacks level, but this is a big chance for him in the No 6 jersey.

It’s an interesting move to have Beauden Barrett at fullback and Richie Mo’unga at first five.
We know what Barrett can do in either position, but we have also seen enough of Mo’unga, especially through his exceptional performances for the Crusaders in Super Rugby, to know he has the goods.

But I’m sure they are doing this for this match to see how good Mo’unga is against a Springboks side that played very well against Australia last week. Questions will be asked of Mo’unga, but this is an opportunity for Steve Hansen and the selectors to find out a bit more. It’s also a chance for Barrett to stretch his legs from the back. Both are also very good goalkickers, so it might be a toss of the coin there.

Springboks wins in New Zealand are few and far between, but they do have a good track record in Wellington. It’s up to the All Blacks how much space they give them, but they will go hammer and tongs against each other.

You need to create a base early doors, ask questions of the opposition, kick it into second gear, and you can play more expansively. The set-piece will be important, but the breakdown will be key. They have a strong loose trio, led by captain Duane Vermeulen, so Matt Todd will be busy.

I’m not sure that the winner will have any bragging rights going into their Rugby World Cup opener. That game on September 21 will be like the second Test and, if they meet again in Japan, that will be third Test. It’s a mini-series.

I played something like 12 Tests against South Africa, but I really enjoyed that 1994 win (13-9) in Wellington. I scored a try that day at the old Athletic Park. As a kid, it was a dream of mine to play against the Boks, watching them in black and white in the 1970s. I just loved playing against them, because they were tough and never lie down.

If the Boks get any opportunities like the Pumas did, they will take them and finish them, as they did last year at the same venue.