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It's little wonder Dublin mortgage broker Alain Rolland has been given the thumbs-up by both the All Blacks and Springboks to control tonight's test.

The Irish referee has been involved in crowning moments of both teams in recent seasons, highlighted by the 2007 World Cup final in Paris, when South Africa suffocated England.

New Zealand have experienced few negative moments under Rolland, aside from last year, when they were outplayed by the Boks in Bloemfontein.

The team-ref relationship began in 2003 when the All Blacks steamrolled South Africa by a record 52-16 in Pretoria. A year later Rolland oversaw the 45-6 crushing of France in Paris.

Since then he controlled New Zealand's 13-9 defeat of Australia at Brisbane in 2006 and the 32-6 hammering of England at Twickenham two years later, both described by Graham Henry as among their best performances.

The breakthrough 39-12 thrashing of France last November was also whistled by the former Ireland halfback, possibly prompting Henry's bright assessment this week.

"Alain Rolland is the best referee in the world," Henry said. "He's got a real feel for the game and he's a player's referee; in other words they like playing under him because he's got that feel."

Pressure will be on the 43-year-old following comments this week from All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith, who called for test officials to improve fitness levels and keep up with the speed of the 2010 game.

The All Blacks conceded nine unanswered penalties during the middle stages of last weekend's 32-12 defeat of South Africa in Auckland. Captain Richie McCaw felt Ireland's Alan Lewis let the tacklers get away with more than during the Super 14 and hoped that would change tonight.

"If we hadn't got to the advantage line as easy as we had it might have been an issue but I think the more referees can keep that tackler out the way the more it's going to suit us," he said.

"Hopefully as we go on, in the games that are a bit more even, the tackler does get made to get out of there."

- NZPA