ENTERTAINMENT

Zinzan Brooke, a Truly Gifted All Black

As Samoa have recently been graced with the legendary All Blacks team playing them at their home ground in Apia and Fiji hosting a relatively new-look Maori All Blacks team,
12 Jul 2015 09:11
Zinzan Brooke, a Truly Gifted All Black

As Samoa have recently been graced with the legendary All Blacks team playing them at their home ground in Apia and Fiji hosting a relatively new-look Maori All Blacks team, I thought it may be nice to take a trip down memory lane and have a look at a legend, who has represented both the national All Blacks side and the traditional indigenous Maori All Blacks team in the past.

That man is Zinzan Brooke, born Murray Zinzan Brooke in February 1965; he grew up tough with his two brothers Robin who was an All Black like Zinzan and Marty who played at a high level in provincial rugby.

All three brothers became stand-out players firstly for their local team, then moving on to club level. Zinzan in particular caught the attention of the selectors with his tough forward-oriented game in the position of Number 8 and also his sublime skill-set which set him apart from the traditional forwards of his era.

It was not long before he was selected to represent Southland and Auckland in his favoured Number 8 position.

Standing at six feet two inches tall and weighing around 100kilos made him big enough for a forward and agile enough to have the skills of someone in the backline.

He made his debut for Auckland in 1986 and played with his club for 11 years until 1997, during this time he captained the Auckland Blues to the Super Rugby champions in both 1996 and 1997.

His international call-up to the All Blacks came just one year after joining the Auckland side in 1987 and he played for the All Blacks for an impressive 10 years and captained the side on numerous occasions.

Zinzan played in 58 tests for his country and 42 non-international matches for the formidable All blacks making it 100 games in total.

He also represented the Maori All Blacks during his illustrious career.

He is considered one of the greatest Number 8s in history and having met him and seen him in action I can confidently vouch for this.

Zinzan’s running with ball in hand and his off-loads were legendary as he made so much ground for his team with his agile and perfect hand and eye co-ordination.

In fact he would have had as much skills as any backline player on the park.

To add to his arsenal he was a great kicker and during the Rugby World Cup in 1995 he kicked a massive drop goal from more than 47 metres out and it was rated as one of the conversions of the tournament.

In fact he scored three drop goals for the All Blacks and set up many tries with his masterful off-loads.

Zinzan also had an eye for the try line and scored 17 tries in test matches for his country.

Those of you who know rugby will surely appreciate that to represent the All Blacks for 10 long years is no mean feat, but I will leave it with one of Zinzan’s peers in the game to give his final brief analysis of this rugby great.

Former England centre and Captain Will Carling published his list of the ‘50 Greatest Rugby players and ranked Brooke the eighth greatest player of all time, stating:

“For a forward his skills were outrageous. As comfortable playing 7s as 15s, he had better kicking and handling skills than some fly-halves playing international rugby. You align that with his strength and ability as a forward to read the game – he was unique.”

The writer is a Fiji Sun columnist.

Feedback: ajayamrit@hotmail.com

 




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