There was a glimmer of hope for the Bpoks, as New Zealand said they would wrap ace flyhalf Dan Carter in cotton wool.
The All Blacks revealed on Sunday that Carter will not feature in the Rugby Championship encounter with the Boks in Dunedin on Saturday, although they said his latest injury setback will be a short one.
The Kiwi team management made it clear they're prepared to "nurse" him through carefully.
His calf injury, suffered in the lead-up to the encounter against Argentina in Wellington at the weekend, hasn't healed enough for him to be considered for the encounter with the Boks - who came unstuck against the Wallabies in Perth at the weekend.
New Zealand had recorded two convincing wins over the Wallabies and the Boks' latest poor performance means the All Blacks will head to Dunedin as outright favourites.
However, they will do so with Aaron Cruden in the No.10 jersey.
Kiwi coach Steve Hansen says Carter be back for the test against Argentina in La Plata later this month, but they do need to look after Carter.
"He's getting older isn't he," Hansen said.
"The more you play the game the more vulnerable you are to injury and he's got quite a few miles on the clock so that's just standard for an older player and he's got to be smart, we've got to be smart."
Cruden, who started in the 21-5 win over Argentina in Wellington, says he failed to take the chance to show his ability to control the game alongside Aaron Smith.
"I think I probably didn't do that to the best of my ability, but as I said it's something to go away and work on, and really focus on next week," he sad looking forward to the encounter with the Boks.
"If I get an opportunity against South Africa I can do that to a better level."
The All Blacks travelled to Dunedin on Sunday to begin preparations for next weekend's Test against the Springboks.
While some may suggest Carter is now injury-prone, the All Blacks management make no secret of the fact that he will be given special treatment to extend a glittering rugby career into his 30s.
He also missed the majority of last year's World Cup campaign with a groin issue and the Kiwi coach, Hansen, was resigned to that pattern continuing unless Carter was eased through niggles like his current one.
"He's what we call a red flag athlete," Hansen said.
"He's at a high risk of getting re-injury so we have to smart about how much pressure we put him under.
"We have made the decision he won't be playing next week.
"The type of treatment he needs, it will take the pressure right off and give the calf the opportunity to come right.
"We're trying to, I guess, take him off his legs so he can concentrate on getting it better rather than trying to get it better to play."
At this stage Hansen expected Carter to be fit for the final two Tests of the Rugby Championship, away to Argentina on September 29 and South Africa a week later.
The 89-Test veteran's absence handed further opportunities to his logical successor Aaron Cruden, 23, and 21-year-old Beauden Barrett to establish themselves.
It had fast-forwarded Hansen's general plan to start filtering in the next wave of All Blacks talent ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
"Over the next 12 months to 24 months, there's going to be some pressure on who's playing where and that's got to be good for our game," Hansen said.
"We've got a clear goal of where we want to be and how we want to play and we're working hard towards that.
"We've been fortunate enough to get some younger players on the park."
Sources: NZ Newswire & Newstalk ZB
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