Rather than listen too hard to the curiously downbeat Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus, the All Blacks are preparing for the best version of the old enemy in Wellington and the home side are likely to be bolstered by the return of flanker Sam Cane and midfielder Ryan Crotty.

Both will probably be selected in the starting line-up after sitting out last weekend's 46-24 victory over Argentina in Nelson. So too, probably, will second-five Sonny Bill Williams, who has been given the all-clear from his shoulder injury which has kept him out of the game since June, although the big Blues man was ill this morning and wasn't allowed to train.

The test at Westpac Stadium on Saturday will be the last one at home this year for the All Blacks, and after impressing in two big Bledisloe Cup victories against Australia, and against an improved Pumas, Steve Hansen's men will be determined to go out on a high.

With the pressure building on Erasmus – in the first year of a six-year contract – after consecutive losses to Argentina in Mendoza and the Wallabies in Brisbane, the Boks coach suggested his job could be on the line if his side don't deliver but the All Blacks will be taking little notice.


After shuffling the deck last weekend, and seeing some very good results along with a fair few mistakes, Hansen will be keen on seeing what will be close to his best team play with a little more cohesion against the South Africans and helping with that accuracy will be No7 Cane who suffered a head knock against the Wallabies at Eden Park.

"I definitely took a whack, I remember at the time thinking, 'Jeez, I'm a bit dazed here'," Cane said today. "But then I was disappointed considering I've already taken one this year, but I woke up the next day feeling fine and took it easy over the next couple of days.

"I literally didn't feel anything and after a knock you're always analysing yourself a lot closer than you normally would. But I've been fine and got into some good training in the back half of that week after the Auckland test and got some real good work done last week – a lot of running and a lot of kms on the clock."

Cane is likely to replace Ardie Savea in the No7 jersey, with Crotty, who was knocked out after collding with Jack Goodhue early in the test against Australia in Sydney, likely to replace his Crusaders teammate.

Williams' return, should he recover from his illness as expected, will come at just the right time after the knee injury suffered by Ngani Laumape against the Pumas.

Rieko Ioane is likely to return from a hamstring injury suffered in Sydney and will probably join Waisake Naholo and Ben Smith in the back three as the All Blacks look to counter the size and pace of the South Africans. There will be no Brodie Retallick, with Sam Whitelock likely to partner Scott Barrett in the second row and Liam Squire a near certainty to replace Shannon Frizell at No6.

There is good news too in the improving fitness of hooker Dane Coles. Coles hasn't played since late last year due to a bad knee injury but should play for Wellington in the Mitre 10 Cup and is a possibility to play in the final Rugby Championship test against South Africa in Johannesburg on October 7.

"Every week he's getting closer and closer," said Foster of the player who could be considered as the best hooker in the world. "It's exciting and he's starting to believe that too I think. He's got that glint in his eye and he's asking questions and looking for stuff. It's nice to see. There's been a strong progression in his workload and hopefully he'll be on the park before too long."


As for the downtrodden Erasmus and a Boks team apparently low on confidence, Foster wasn't having any of it given the rugby history of two nations and in particular their last encounter in Cape Town last year, a nerve-wracking 25-24 victory by the All Blacks, saying: "We have to turn up to play a team that will have its best game of the year."