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Zinzan Brooke

Brooke played for the All Blacks between 1987 and 1997, playing 58 tests and 42 matches. Across the 100 matches, Brooke scored 195 points, made up of 42 tries and three drop goals. He is considered one of the best number eights to have ever played for the All Blacks with running and kicking skills of a back along with the strength and mobility of a great loose forward.

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Expect free-flowing rugby from the Barbarians

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Zinzan Brooke     02 Nov 2017     Getty Images

I don't think their last loss to a pretty determined Wallabies side has dented that interest up here and plenty of fans are excited about their potential.

Up first is the Barbarians of course, a team I've laced up for in the past. The club is incredible, their tactics are simple: fast, free-flowing rugby with no rules, and playing it as it unfolds. It works for a lot of the guys, and I'm picking it'll suit Julian Savea down to a tee. 

QUICK TAP: BARBARIANS CLASH AN IDEAL WAY TO START TOUR - FOSTER

It's an intriguing start to the Northern Hemisphere tour because traditionally there would be quite a few English, Scottish, or Welsh players in the mix. This time though, there are none. Zero. Is it a sign of disrespect? I don't think so, but it could very well be down to the fact that clubs aren't interested in releasing their internationals for the game, even if it is a significant anniversary match. They aren't devaluing the clash, but it's a massive risk for these Premiership clubs with the playoffs around the corner.

It's going to be a massive game not only for those invited to pull on the black and white jersey, but it will be just as valuable for the All Blacks. It's a great chance to warm into the tour and give guys like Asafo Aumua a chance to prove his worth on the world stage. I've heard a bit about this guy and I think he will perform well, he just needs to make sure he takes his opportunity if he is selected.
He's not the only one. Guys like Jack Goodhue and Tim Perry could also make their first appearance in the black jersey. Everyone knows the next World Cup is less than two years away, so there is only one full season to press your case. Coming into the environment, picking up key lessons from Steve Hansen and co, and capitalising on them could be the difference for these guys between booking your ticket to Japan or watching it at home.

Don't expect the All Blacks to run riot against the Barbarians. They have enough Kiwis in the squad to give them the low-down on the New Zealand style. It's going to be tight, but I think the class of the visitors should do enough to pull away in the last 10 to 15 minutes or so.

The game is a win-win though for Northern Hemisphere fans and the next wave of All Black talent. I'll be there with my two sons and their friends ready to cheer the boys home, even if it makes us the most unpopular group there!