Cape Town - All Blacks legend and former hooker Keven Mealamu has backed Steve Hansen's decision to split his squad for their next two Rugby Championship Tests.
Locks Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick along with Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty are going straight to South Africa, meaning they will not play against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
The 28-man squad heading to Argentina on Friday will feature uncapped utility back David Havilli, along with recalled forwards Matt Todd, Jerome Kaino, lock Patrick Tuipulotu and prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen.
"It has been a hectic season for the boys especially with the Lions tour," Mealamu told Newshub.
"There will be some sore bodies and this will be a good opportunity for some of the guys who have not had a run yet to get a chance in the black jersey.
"Those guys in the engine room have been working hard and have had their work cut out for them in the last couple of months.
"It’s a good chance for those guys to get their bodies right for the rest of the year.
"As an All Black, you always want to be a part of the team but it has been a big year for them so hopefully they finish well."
The 132-Test All Black was also pleased by New Zealand's performance in their record-breaking 57-0 win over the Springboks on Saturday.
"They played really well on the weekend and put together a really good performance.
"The attack has been good but I think the defensive side really stood up and they scored some good tries off turnover.
"They (the Springboks) had been playing well over the last few games and when you are the All Blacks you always want to step up against an old foe like the Springboks."