The Chiefs have received a big boost ahead of their showdown against the Hurricanes, with Sam Cane set to make his first appearance of 2017.
The All Black flanker has been passed fit and will take his No 7 jersey for Friday night's clash in Hamilton, setting up an intriguing personal duel against Ardie Savea.
Cane missed the first fortnight of their season while recovering from an ankle injury sustained on All Blacks duty during the end-of-year tour, watching on from the sidelines as the Chiefs won both their opening games.
His return will be an invaluable addition for the encounter against the unbeaten defending champions, enhancing a physical and experienced Chiefs line-up.
In addition to Cane, there are four other changes to the starting XV that defeated the Blues last Friday night, including another adjustment in the loose forwards. Taranaki flanker Mitchell Brown will start on the blindside, replacing Liam Messam who is being rested following two massive 80-minute performances.
The other changes come in the backline, with Anton Lienert-Brown shifting to second five-eighth and Tim Nanai-Williams slotting in at centre, allowing Toni Pulu to reclaim the right wing spot.
In the reserves, veteran first five Stephen Donald is also set for his first appearance of the season, while 24-year old Bay of Plenty hooker Sebastian Siataga could make his Super Rugby debut off the bench.
Chiefs team to play the Hurricanes in Hamilton on Friday night:
1. Kane Hames
2. Hika Elliot
3. Nepo Laulala
4. Dominic Bird
5. Brodie Retallick
6. Mitchell Brown
7. Sam Cane (co-captain)
8. Michael Leitch
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow
10. Aaron Cruden (co-captain)
11. James Lowe
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
13. Tim Nanai-Williams
14. Toni Pulu
15. Damian McKenzie
Reserves: Sebastian Siataga, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Atu Moli, Taleni Seu, Lachlan Boshier, Jonathan Taumateine, Stephen Donald, Shaun Stevenson