New Zealand may be without a number of senior players in key positions, but stand-in captain Keven Mealamu believes the 'young" members of the touring party can upstage South Africa's veterans.
The All Blacks leave for South Africa on Saturday - with regular skipper Richie McCaw, flyhalf Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Brad Thorn, Mils Muliaina, Owen Franks, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Kieran Read all missing - ahead of next Saturday's Tri-Nations showdown with the Springboks in Port Elizabeth.
"It's a good chance for those [younger] players to step up and take the opportunity," Mealamu said on Friday.
"Over the last couple of weeks they've been lucky enough to get some good mentoring from them [the experienced players] as well so we're very lucky to have some great coaches who give us the right game plan so we head in there knowing what we are going to do and I am sure those guys will do a great job for us," Mealamu said.
Mealamu - like so many of those players being left behind - had a big workload, skippering the Blues in this year's Super Rugby competition, playing in all 18 matches.
He backed up by making his 84th test appearance in New Zealand's 30-14 Bledisloe Cup defeat of Australia in Auckland last Saturday.
But while a number of frontline All Blacks are being given a break and won't make the trip to Port Elizabeth to face the Springboks next weekend, Mealamu is more than happy to be on the plane.
There were no issues with fatigue for the 84-test veteran, who said he was feeling good and was ready to go.
"I love playing for the All Blacks," he said.
"You never know when it's your last opportunity, so when you get the chance to play for the All Blacks and even skipper them, I'll take that with two hands."
With McCaw among those rested, Mealamu, 32, will get to be Test captain for the second time in his career.
The first was against Scotland in November 2008, when he led the All Blacks to a 32-6 victory.
The captaincy was a huge honour, he said, and one that not many players got to experience.
"I take it with every inch of pride that I have in my body," he said.
"I'm just really looking forward to going out there and doing a good job."
While the All Blacks won't be fielding their No 1 side at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Mealamu said they still have good experience in the forward pack and dangerous backs out wide.
But he also acknowledged that the Springboks on their own soil would be big challenge, especially with players who didn't make the trip to Australia and New Zealand last month back in the frame.
"Whenever we play the South Africans at home, it's always a huge contest for us," he said.
"I've never seen a Springbok A or B side, it's always a Springbok side. We've definitely got our work cut out over there."
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