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The players set to profit from Wales' new gameplan

With the Pivac era now a distant memory, Warren Gatland has a rich seam of talent to select from in the Six Nations

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Zinzan Brooke on his best All Blacks teams vs the current squad: 'I'd fancy our chances'

By Ned Lester
Zinzan Brooke with the ball for the All Blacks. Credit: David Rogers/Allsport

New Zealand rugby legend Zinzan Brooke isn’t sold on this All Blacks team and is confident his teams of old would dispatch Ian Foster’s squad. However, Steve Hansen’s era is another story.

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Brooke’s reign as New Zealand’s finest No 8 lasted 58 tests and contributed handsomely to the infamous mid-90s era, where he played alongside the likes of Sir Michael Jones, Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and Sean Fitzpatrick.

A unique talent in the forwards, Brooke’s skillset was considered easily on par with that of the premier backs in the game, fluent as a distributor and not shy when it came to putting boot to ball.

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Not shy in backing his teams of the past either, as he told FairBettingSites.co.uk:

“The team we had in ‘94, ‘95, ‘96 and ‘97, it’s very similar to the team McCaw had with the same front row, loose forward, inside back combinations,” Brooke said.

“The ammunition they had at their fingertips was phenomenal when they won back-to-back World Cups.

“Right now this All Blacks side is not on that same level.

“With that ‘95, ‘96, ‘97 team, I’d fancy our chances against this current All Blacks side.

“But that team with Richie McCaw, that would be a close battle. It might be 25-all.”

Now a London resident, Zinzan and his former captain Sean Fitzpatrick were at All Blacks training in Cardiff two weeks ago, connecting with players before attending the All Blacks’ commanding victory over Wales.

While the win was another step in the right direction for Foster’s unstable All Blacks and Brooke expressed confidence the team “will get themselves out of a hole of inconsistency they’re producing”, he’s still not sold on their ability to truly fulfil their potential as a team.

“On what’s happened, you have to reserve judgement.

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“At the moment the All Blacks need to step up and play a game that’s going to be difficult for France, Ireland and the other teams that are going to be in front of us.

“Against Scotland the first eight minutes were good but from then until 65 minutes it was rather disappointing. Scotland played well but the All Blacks took their foot off the gas. I know the All Blacks are better than that.

“I’m always optimistic with the All Blacks but at the moment I’m sitting on the fence and don’t know which way to fall.”

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Rugby’s evolution and globalisation and the growth in competition that has come with it was a hot topic for Brooke as he reflected on his years of spectatorship.

“I’ve always said things will change – and they are changing. It’s evident with Argentina. Once upon a time, they were the whipping boys and now they’ve said ‘no more’.

“They’ve beaten New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England and that’s good for rugby.

“It’s happening with Italy in the Six Nations. Yes, it’s taken a bit longer but I’d love Italy to blow out some candles on a few of the other Six Nations teams.

“With the world rankings, coming into next year’s World Cup, who would have thought Ireland would be No 1? That’s good for the game.

“New Zealand were asked the question and they didn’t deliver. They allowed history to be created in New Zealand, not only once but twice with Argentina and Ireland.

As for this weekend’s match, Brooke reluctantly revealed his prediction, calling for his countrymen to emerge victorious at Twickenham.

“It will be tight but I’ve got to go with the All Blacks by seven points.”

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