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Zinzan Brooke column

Zinzan Brooke
By Zinzan Brooke
All Blacks legend

I always thought if one team can beat the All Blacks on this "Grand Slam" tour, it is Wales.

They are Six Nations champions, they have got the wind in their sails, a good coach, and have an air of confidence about them.

They were unlucky to lose to South Africa two weeks ago, and probably should have won the game.

This Saturday they have got to be right on their game and need to be a bit more clinical, but they have a chance.

RECENT MEETINGS
Nov 06: Wales 10-45 NZ
Nov 05: Wales 3-41 NZ
Nov 04: Wales 25-26 NZ
Nov 03 (WC): NZ 53-37 Wales
Jun 03: NZ 55-3 Wales
Nov 02: Wales 17-43 NZ
We know the Welsh can play that open, running rugby, but they need to play themselves into the game first and make sure they have a bit of structure early on.

If you are playing catch-up, then you have to play like that, but it all depends on what stage the game is at.

The All Blacks have got the intensity to match it, and we know they can kick on later in the game. We don't know yet whether Wales can do that against one of the top sides.

They need to be a little bit sensible and make sure they are within a few points of the All Blacks at half-time to allow their confidence to develop.

Warren Gatland takes a Wales training session
Warren Gatland is a great communicator and analyser, like a lot of teachers who have done well in coaching

From then on, it could be a moment of brilliance that wins the game, but it will come down to whether Wales really believe they can win the game, or whether they are there to make up the numbers.

They have to ask questions of the All Blacks, which is easier said than done, but that is exactly what Munster did on Tuesday.

That was an absolutely spectacularly occasion, worthy of the great tradition of tour matches.

The Munster boys wore their passion on the sleeves of those red jerseys and they were out on their feet at the end.

They had nothing left in the tank and when that happens, supporters will accept and applaud it, even if their team has lost.

Going down with a spineless performance is worth nothing, so Wales have to put everything into this game, and physically and mentally try to dominate the opposition.

New Zealand's display against Ireland was hardly a vintage one even though they had their top side out. It wasn't the step up they were hoping for and there have to be reservations within the team and the coaching staff.

Wales coach Warren Gatland will be hoping to exploit that, and he should know how to get under the All Blacks' skin.

I played with Warren when he came into the All Blacks set-up in the late 1980s, and although he didn't play a Test for New Zealand, he was the best guy to have warming the bench as first reserve.

606: DEBATE
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Warren is a great communicator and analyser, like a lot of teachers who have done well in coaching - Graham Henry, Wayne Smith, Brian Ashton.

He introduced a game into All Blacks training which one of his school-kids showed him, which was called "Jail".

It was quite complex but it was designed to improve your movement around the ball, your aerobic fitness and team-work.

Some guys were designated attacking roles, some defensive, and once you got in the 'holding cell', you were not allowed to stand still.

You had to keep moving and if you got caught having a rest, you had to go to 'jail', which meant doing 20 press-ups, 20 sit-ups and 20 star-jumps.

It was bloody hard work, but a very effective exercise for simulating the intensity of Test-match rugby.

That said, I don't think New Zealand will need a 'get out of jail' card on Saturday. I take the All Blacks to win by 13 points.

Zinzan Brooke was talking to BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer

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see also
All Blacks forced into one change
20 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Munster 16-18 New Zealand
18 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 3-22 New Zealand
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Zinzan Brooke column
12 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Scotland 6-32 New Zealand
08 Nov 08 |  Scottish
Zinzan Brooke column
05 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union


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