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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Zinzan Brooke column
Zinzan Brooke
By Zinzan Brooke
Former All Black

New Zealand were worthy winners against the Lions but it is difficult to tell how good Graham Henry's side is because it wasn't really tested.

We will get a clearer indication of where the All Blacks stand when they are put under pressure in the Tri-Nations.

They clearly have a lot of quality and there are some class players in the side, but we are always seem to peak between World Cups.

I've told the guys to start losing some games to take the pressure off!

At the moment, the All Blacks are looking good for France in 2007, but will they will be playing like this in two years' time?

Having said that, I think there is a big difference between this team and other New Zealand sides who were built up and then failed when it mattered most.

In 1991, we weren't good enough. I was in that team and there were a lot of problems in the camp - it was probably the unhappiest All Blacks side I was ever involved with.

In 1995, we were a little bit unlucky. Maybe South Africa were just destined to win.

As for 1999, I don't think there was a person on this earth who would have thought we were going to lose after leading France 24-10 at half-time in the semi-finals.

Finally, we simply weren't good enough in 2003. The team wasn't performing and I think they did okay to reach the semi-finals in Australia.

The All Blacks are looking good for France in 2007, but will they will be playing like this in two years' time?

For that to happen, they need the nucleus of the team to stay together so they can develop some consistency.

Henry is doing a good job by bringing in new players but not disrupting things too much.

It was a brave call to bring in Mils Muliaina, Rico Gear and Byron Kelleher for the second Test, but it worked well and keeps the players on their toes.

Rico Gear and Tana Umaga celebrate after the former scored the last try of the Test series
New Zealand have bigger challenges ahead after hammering the Lions

The only thing that worries me is that we are peaking too early.

It will be hard in the Tri-Nations, but if we can come through that with just one defeat we will be doing well.

Then there's the trip to the British Isles for the Grand Slam tour.

If the All Blacks can play at the same skill level as they managed against the Lions, I think they can beat England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The game against Ireland will be interesting. Brian O'Driscoll should be back for that one, which would mean a square-off against Tana Umaga.

Tana will love the confrontation, so it should be a classic.

As for England, they could struggle if Lawrence Dallaglio isn't fit. He's a huge presence, all the New Zealand guys respect him immensely, and I think Andy Robinson's got to get him back in there.

England have plenty of things to sort out, but we'll leave that for another time.



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