Day one of South Africa's tour of New Zealand, and test and T20 skipper Faf du Plessis wasted no time anointing boom young fast bowler Kagiso Rabada as "the real deal".

South Africa's formidable bowling unit has for several years been spearheaded by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Steyn, one of the world's best quicks, and the tall Morkel with his steepling bounce are recovering from a broken shoulder and back troubles respectively.

But du Plessis believes 21-year-old quick Rabada is the future of the pace game for South Africa.

"He is someone who is going to be -- if he doesn't get any injuries -- just as good as Dale or Morne, a guy who is going to lead the South African attack for a very long time.

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"In all formats, he's got all the skills to do what is required He's a guy who is great to have in your team. Bounce and pace is what he's got. He hasn't played in New Zealand so it will be a nice learning opportunity. He ticks all the boxes with his skills."

South Africa's tour begins at Eden Park tomorrow with a T20 against a New Zealand XI, a chance to stretch the legs after today's training session was scrapped when the team's arrival in New Zealand was delayed into the early hours.

Du Plessis maintained the ODI series starting at Hamilton's Seddon Park on Sunday has a heavyweight feel to it, matching the world's No1 and No3-ranked teams.

"New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Those three countries you're going to have great matchups. New Zealand have an amazing record at home, just as we've done in the last year. It's a nice challenge for us to beat a team playing well with a good record in New Zealand. If you can turn that record over it means you're playing good cricket."

Du Plessis was open in admitting captain Kane Williamson and seam bowling pair Trent Boult and Tim Southee will be primary targets for South Africa.

"If you play [Boult and Southee] well you'll put on good scores. If you put pressure on their big players, just to name those three, you put yourself in a position to try and win games."

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He added that New Zealand's fielding prowess was not dissimilar to an area of the game the tourists' pride themselves on.

And du Plessis, who played in the World Cup semifinal at Eden Park in 2015, the last time South Africa were in New Zealand, probably knew that question was coming today. Grant Elliott, Steyn, six off the penultimate ball sent high into the crowd at long on, New Zealand jubilation, South African tears, the greatest ODI New Zealand have played.

Du Plessis said while his team had put it behind them "the emotions of the day will always be with us That's not a bad thing. Although we were on the wrong side of winning the game it was a great game."

South Africa face a New Zealand XI tomorrow, current internationals and some good uncapped limited-overs players, such as Auckland opener Glenn Phillips. International seamer Matt Henry is there, along with returning quick Adam Milne and test and ODI batsman Ross Taylor, unwanted in the T20 side. "Good news for us," du Plessis said quietly of the last-named absentee for Friday night's sole T20 international.

Kagiso Rabada

Age

: 21

Tests: 14, 63 wickets at 21.76

ODIs: 30, 49 wickets at 26

T20s: 16, 22 wickets at 22.63

New Zealand XI

Squad to play South Africa at Eden Park No 2 tomorrow from 3pm

Glenn Phillips, Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Bruce, Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, Todd Astle, Matt Henry, Zak Gibson, Henry Shipley, Adam Milne.