The All Blacks have struggled to produce front and second rows of genuine Test pedigree in recent years, arguably as a result of the domestic Super 12 competition, which covets expansive running above forward confrontation and in which set-pieces are used as little more than a means to get play restarted.
But Fitzpatrick, who captained New Zealand to a 2-1 series victory over the Lions in 1993, warned that the All Blacks still have the ability to steamroller opponents - as their stunning 45-6 victory over France in Paris last November proved.
"New Zealand showed in the autumn, especially against the French, that they can play that power game using the big forwards to create wonderful go-forward ball for the backs," he said.
"Our backs are exciting and can play a style of rugby which other countries struggle to compete with. But they need the forwards to do their job.
"With Richie McCaw at openside, we will compete at the breakdown, but he needs to the grunters there in support."