New Zealand will have to blunt South Africa's impressive pace attack if they are to claim their first ever series win over the Proteas, believes Black Caps coach Mike Hesson.

Fresh from a 2-0 series win over Zimbabwe on docile wickets, the batsmen can expect a significant change in pace and bounce when the first Test begins at Kingsmead in Durban on Friday night (NZT).

While the injured Morne Morkel will be missing from the Proteas line-up, New Zealand are still likely to face Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kasigo Rabada.

Philander has a good history against New Zealand, taking 21 wickets during the Proteas tour of New Zealand in 2012 and following that up with a seven-wicket haul in the Newlands Test in early 2013.


"Although he missed much of last summer through injury, Philander was still a high-quality bowler," said Hesson.

"We saw him at his best a few years ago when he just hit lovely lengths. We know he's going to provide a challenge there, most likely with the new ball." Rabada is more of an unknown factor, given he's a relative newcomer to Test cricket.

But he showed his class against England in January when he ripped through their line-up in the third Test, taking a career-best seven for 112.

"He's got pace, he's got bounce, he's got plenty of skill," noted Hesson.

"He's fresh so he keeps running in at you hard. He's someone we're going to have to spend a bit of time on.

"We know he's a quality bowler but when you've got Dale Steyn at the other end as well there's no let off."

Hesson has yet to decide whether his bowling line-up will feature two spinners to back up a pace attack of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, meaning one of Ish Sodhi or Mitchell Santner could miss out.

"We wouldn't be afraid of playing two spinners if we felt it was going to be dry and turn."