Former Warriors back Ngani Laumape looks set to wear the No12 jersey for the Hurricanes in their season-opening match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.
Laumape, let go by the Warriors last year and immediately signed by the Hurricanes who saw him as a potential replacement for Ma'a Nonu following the All Black's move to France, is likely to form a midfield partnership with Vince Aso.
Coach Chris Boyd said today that Pita Ahki and Willis Halaholo were also in the mix but that Matt Proctor's knee injury would keep him out for between six and eight weeks.
Laumape, who represented the New Zealand Secondary Schools in the 15-man game, said the adjustment back to union had taken time - he had retreated 10m on defence in his first pre-season match - but that he was on the right track.
As for replacing Nonu, one of his heroes, that was "definitely a challenge".
"I don't think anyone could replace Ma'a and Conrad [Smith]. The boys who are competing for the midfield spots have to do what's best for the Hurricanes because Ma'a and Conrad are legends of the game," he said.
The Hurricanes, who thrashed the Crusaders 74-7 in a pre-season match in Blenheim, are unlikely to have lock James Broadhurst for the Brumbies match due to concussion.