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Captain Keven up for the challenge

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Sportal.co.nz     13 Aug 2011     Getty Images

Star players like captain Richie McCaw and first five-eighths Dan Carter have been left at home along with fullback Mils Muliaina, centre Conrad Smith, lock Brad Thorn, No.8 Kieran Read and prop Owen Franks.

"It's a good chance for those players [the replacements] to step up and take the opportunity.

"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.

The focus in the week leading up to the game in Port Elizabeth would be about building the confidence so that everyone shared the belief they were capable of doing that job.

Mealamu believed the side still had enough experience in the forward pack and some dangerous backs to cope with the task and he felt it would be an exciting challenge.

He said that there was always the opportunity in such a big year for the game that the All Blacks might have to cope without having Richie McCaw and Dan Carter on board for a game and he believed there were players capable of stepping up and he looked forward to them taking their opportunity in South Africa.

"We've definitely got our work cut out for us when we get over there, they've got all their players returning so it is a big challenge for us," he said.

Mealamu wasn't concerned about not having a rest. He said he had two weeks off at the end of the Super Rugby season and you never knew when it would be your last opportunity to play for the side and he gladly accepted the responsibility with both hands.

Mealamu has led the side before, in 2008 against Scotland, and he had learnt a lot from it.

"The result comes from us all pulling together and making sure we get the result and as individuals we've all got to step up and make sure we play well," he said.