Ruthless ABs 'a different animal' says Brooke

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:19 08/08/2014
All Blacks
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TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: The All Blacks celebrate their last-gasp win over Ireland in 2013.

Zinzan Brooke
NZPA
TOUGH NUT: Former All Blacks No 8 Zinzan Brooke believes New Zealand is a strong chance of defending the Rugby World Cup next year.

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All Blacks great Zinzan Brooke says New Zealand's ruthlessness sets them apart as the World Cup looms.

The All Blacks are looking to become the first team to defend the cup when they back up their 2011 triumph in England next year.

Brooke, long domiciled in Britain after revolutionising back row play during his time in the black jersey, told WalesOnline that while one-off games always opened the field in World Cup contenders, the All Blacks had become "relentless" under Steve Hansen.

Their dominance included an ability to not just overwhelm some teams but, crucially, also squeeze victories out of the tightest situations.

"For the last five years New Zealand have consistently been good," Brooke said.

"Everyone has thrown the kitchen sink at them but they have thrown it back at them harder.

"They came unstuck against England at Twickenham, but that was two years ago and since then they have become a different animal.

"The All Blacks machine has kicked in and created this aura.

"When the opposition is worrying about what New Zealand are going to do and not concentrating on their own game, they are going to come unstuck.

"How did Ireland lose that game (against the All Blacks in Dublin) last year? It beggars belief and was absolutely amazing.

"They made a hash of the last few minutes and imploded.

"You can't do that against the All Blacks because they are relentless."

Brooke played up to his Welsh audience for the interview, believing Warren Gatland's side had a real chance if their Kiwi coach could unearth a bit more depth in the next year.

He felt Welsh rugby would benefit from the arrival of New Zealand coaches Mark Hammett and Wayne Pivac at Cardiff and Llanelli respectively.

"The mindset of the three New Zealand coaches, including Warren Gatland, will be pretty competitive and that can only benefit Welsh rugby," Brooke told WalesOnline.

"Wayne Pivac and Mark Hammett are very good guys and have good reputations.

"Both will be an added bonus to their respective regions.

"Pivac used to coach with my brother (Robin) and I know he has a good track record and good rapport with the players.

"Hammett has been around a shorter time but has developed a good reputation back in New Zealand."

Brooke said he was surprised that Wales had managed to lure 23-year-old Gareth Anscombe away from New Zealand.

He believed Sir John Kirwan's lack of interest in Anscombe with the Blues had started that process.

Going to the Chiefs, Anscombe had to play second fiddle to Aaron Cruden and couldn't force his way into the All Blacks' reckoning.

"I was surprised he left New Zealand but he will be a great addition to the Cardiff Blues and Welsh rugby," Brooke said.

"He has done well with the Waikato Chiefs and is a very good player who can fit in at 10 or 15

"I was disappointed when Auckland Blues let him go and he could have made a mark and positioned himself to be the incumbent.

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"But John Kirwan felt otherwise and felt he did not fit the bill."

- Stuff

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