Blackcaps v South Africa: Batter Will Young, bowler Will O'Rourke poised for test call-ups at Hamilton's Seddon Park

Blackcaps batter Will Young has been confirmed to start the second test against South Africa at Hamilton, replacing middle-order stalwart Daryl Mitchell.

Young, 31, has played 13 tests for six half centuries and an average of 26.45, and was an obvious inclusion for Mitchell, who has been plagued by a foot injury over the past six months.

"We'll have another look tomorrow, but with Daryl Mitchell not being here, Will Young will slip into the middler order," confirmed captain Tim Southee. "We'll decide on the final make-up of the bowling attack in the morning, after one final look at the wicket.

Will Young and Will O'Rourke in whiteball action for New Zealand.
Will Young and Will O'Rourke in whiteball action for New Zealand. Photo credit: Photosport

"You look at the balance you need across the five days and make a decision according to that."

At Mt Maunganui last week, New Zealand departed from their traditional four-prong pace attack, naming Southee, Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson as specialist fast-bowlers, with Mitch Santner, Rachin Ravindra and Glenn Phillips used as spin options in a 281-run victory.

Hamilton may offer slightly different conditions, and a return to four speedsters would force a choice between veteran Neil Wagner and newcomer Will O'Rourke, brought into a test camp for the first time.

"There's a good chance, he's in the 13," admitted Southee of O'Rourke's prospects. "Neil's been around the group as well and been a great performer for us for a long period of time.

"It's great to have those decisions to be made. Will's an exciting talent and has had a little taste of international cricket, and I'm sure he has a bright future in the highest level as well."

O'Rourke, 22, made his international one-day debut against Bangladesh in December, taking five wickets across three matches, including his first scalp with his final ball on debut and 3/47 in his second outing.

"Will's probably played a bit more cricket than I had," reflected Southee. "He's got a great head on his shoulders.

"He's a pretty mature guy from what I've seen of him. He's had a little taste already, so he knows what to expect, but you just enjoy it and stick to what you've done that's got you here.

"The guys have been great getting around him."

Omission would be a bitter pill to swallow for Wagner, who was instrumental in two thrilling test victories last summer, taking the final wicket in a one-run win over England and limping a bye for a last-ball win over Sri Lanka.

At 37, after 12 years and 63 tests, Wagner's international career may be ending and losing out to O'Rourke may be that passing-of-the torch moment.

"It's not just Neil, it's any guy who misses out," said Southee. "It's not a nice place to be.

"You want to be out there, representing your country, but the reality is it's professional sport, and there's only 11 guys that can go out and play the game.

"Usually, Gary will break the news and then I'll follow up with a bit of chat as well. It's not the nicest part of the job, but the guys are pretty understanding."

Victory - or at least avoiding defeat - at Hamilton would make some long-awaited history for the Blackcaps, who have never beaten South Africa in a series.

Two years ago, they hammered the Proteas by an innings and 276 runs at Christchurch, but could not close out the series, losing the returne encounter by 198 runs at the same venue.