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Page last updated at 23:22 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Zinzan Brooke column

Zinzan Brooke
By Zinzan Brooke
All Blacks legend

New Zealand were not at their vintage best against Scotland but a win is a win and it's one down, three to go on their "Grand Slam" tour.

Plenty of people were talking up Scotland's chance of beating the All Blacks for the first time - but talking and doing are two different things.

Scotland started off with a bit of a hiss and a roar, but there was not a lot of spine behind the whole thing and that is the problem. It was all was a bit wishy-washy and pointless really.

Liam Messam
New Zealand have made 11 changes for the Ireland game

The All Blacks' enthusiasm and physical commitment was very good, and that was enough in the end.

It's probably a blessing in disguise for them the way the fixtures have fallen, with Scotland first, then Ireland, before the biggest Tests - Wales and England.

It was a good chance for some of the new Kiwis to impress, but I was slightly disappointed with Liam Messam at number eight. He had a couple of runs but I thought he would have shone more in that type of game.

Jun 08: NZ 21-11 Ire
Jun 06: NZ 27-17 Ire
Jun 06: NZ 34-23 Ire
Nov 05: Ire 7-45 NZ
Jun 02: NZ 40-8 Ire
Jun 02: NZ 15-6 Ire
Nov 01: Ire 29-40 NZ

The flanker Kieran Read seems to be the main beneficiary as he's made it onto the bench for Saturday's Test with Ireland. He's a versatile player who can play at lock or blind-side, he's a workaholic and very consistent, a bit like Richard Hill used to be for England.

But the All Blacks will need to be a bit more polished and accurate, and step it up right across the board this Saturday in Dublin.

The Irish have some good individuals, but the All Blacks will ask questions of them as a collective unit, and I can't see them giving New Zealand too many problems.

Croke Park will be a new ground for them, and a new challenge, and they will want to wipe Ireland off the park.

I think the All Blacks will roll them over. They are at full strength and some of the big boys have had a rest, so they will be right up for it.

The rest of the squad will probably get a run-out again next Tuesday when the All Blacks play Munster at Thomond Park, which will be a throwback to what tours used to be like.


I'm pleased to hear the International Rugby Board are talking about trying to bring back traditional tours with midweek matches as well as Test matches.

People complain about countries not bringing full-strength teams but at the moment these Tests on tour are the only chance to blood new players.

Midweek matches against provincial opposition are the best way to see these guys in action.

When I started playing for the All Blacks, I was only getting the odd Test but midweek matches allowed us to stay in the environment. I remember my first tour to Australia, we only took 26 players and sometimes you would have people playing on a Saturday and backing up again on a Tuesday.

If you weren't number one, you would have to work twice as hard. I think I played nine games on the trot when we toured the UK in 1993. Our open-side flanker got injured and I ended up playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday for four weeks in a row.

I remember going to places like Bath, Cornwall and the Scottish Borders when we were in Britain, places with real rugby tradition, and it was great

But the other good thing about proper touring is it gives you the chance to see a bit of the country and get out of the major cities.

I remember going to places like Bath, Cornwall and the Scottish Borders when we were in Britain, places with real rugby tradition, and it was great.

The All Blacks have brought 35 players on this current tour. They are over here for a month or so and are only playing five matches.

But at least this Saturday should be a proper Test match.

Zinzan Brooke was talking to BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer

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see also
Scotland 6-32 New Zealand
08 Nov 08 |  Scottish
O'Driscoll eyes All Blacks scalp
12 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
NZ make 11 changes for Irish game
11 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 55-0 Canada
08 Nov 08 |  Irish
Blair pays tribute to All Blacks
08 Nov 08 |  Scottish

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