All-Blacks legend Zinzan Brooke on his early love affair with Gaelic football in New Zealand

Legendary No 8 was part of three New Zealand World Cup squads

Zinzan Brooke, New Zealand

Zinzan Brooke ©INPHO / Lorraine O'Sullivan

Zinzan Brooke had a long and illustrious career for the All-Blacks that stretched from 1987 to 1997.

That first year was particularly significant as he was part of the New Zealand squad that won the first ever Rugby World Cup, before being part of the teams that played in the tournaments of 1991 and 1995.

The 1995 tournament was the starting point as he joined Off The Ball at the RDS Roadshow on Thursday night, specifically the food poisoning before the final defeat to South Africa.

"You get a water bottle, you have the two litre water bottles and you break the seal and we had Lucozade sponsors and what we'd do was we'd empty the two litre bottles into the Lucozade bottles," he said.

"I remember 10 o'clock training, I had a bit of water and I said to Robin [Brooke], 'look, this tastes funny'. We didn't think anything of it and then we took it all to training and we trained very well that week and went on through to the game.

"Within about four or five hours later, the guys went out to dinner and went to the movies. I was with a group of about 12 of the guys and within about 20 minutes into the movie - of course it wasn't about the movie - but we started having diarrhoea and that was just as quick as you like. We left the movie, went home and found out that the whole core of the team of about 18, 19 guys had diarrhoea." 

The former No 8 believes there was something wrong with the bottles.  

"I think it was the water bottles. I think the Lucozade bottles were laced with something inside the bottles and we poured it in," he said, adding that the All-Blacks still could have won the final.

Brooke was a team-mate of former Ireland captain Keith Wood at Harlequins and the two shared memories of their one-on-one drop goals competitions in training.

And he also revealed that he had played some Gaelic football in his youth with club Roskill Rangers.

"I played Gaelic football for about eight years. I lived about 100 metres from a guy called Bernie McCahill. His Dad was from Donegal and he introduced me to [the sport]. I was playing under-21s and I was about 17 and he said 'how would you like to play a bit of Gaelic?' I said 'What?' He said, 'a bit of Gaelic football'. Gaelic football was just a foreign word to me I said 'yeah, I'll try it'. Quickly, I picked up the skill-sets for it and loved it. I played it for about seven years, so I still remember playing against France in 1994 on a Saturday and played Gaelic on a Sunday - and I won that game as well."