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I can’t call All Blacks versus England, says Zinzan Brooke

Zinzan Brooke

NEW Zealand great Zinzan Brooke admits he ‘fears’ a World Cup semi-final showdown with England.

The former All Blacks No.8 feels a World Cup clash of the northern and southern hemisphere giants would be too tough to call. 

Brooke, capped 58  times, feels Steve Hansen’s present men in black are not of the same quality of their World Cup winners of four or eight years ago.

“I’d like to say ‘yes, New Zealand are going to win’ but I don’t confidently see it that way,” he told TRP. “I do fear the England semi-final. If the two teams do meet, which I expect them to, it could come down to a toss of the coin on the day. Top sport is about close margins and I can’t see much between them.

“You need to look at the New Zealand teams from previous World Cups, and compare the one to 15. I look at the midfield, loose forwards, tight five and Dan Carter, and clearly those teams were phenomenal.

“I don’t see that in this All Blacks side. There are still discussions going on about who should be in the midfield. I’m ok with the loose forward trio and believe we have a good platform to launch attacks and play the wide expansive game. And we can also chuck it up route one if we need to.

“There is an element of confidence with the All Blacks which makes it difficult for the opposition most of the time. You need a special mindset when you go onto the pitch to face the All Blacks. Do you play the All Blacks or do you just go and defend them?

“The best attacking weapon against the All Blacks is to ensure you dominate the set pieces, which we have seen with South Africa in the Rugby Championship, and then try and control the game from there.

“There have been a few little wobbles for the All Blacks but it has looked ok for them during this World Cup so far.”

Brooke also says England have a few problems to iron out. They include managing Billy Vunipola’s ankle problem.

He insisted: “I am a little worried about Billy at the moment because I didn’t feel he fired any shots in the last game. He was clearly not 100 per cent against Argentina.

“Eddie Jones is a little undecided about his team in regards to the Owen Farrell and George Ford situation. There is a lot of potency in the backs.The platform of the tight five is very good and I like their loose forwards.”

GARY FITZGERALD

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