Sam Cane versus Ardie Savea.

That should get the punters heading to Hamilton's FMG Stadium this Friday night interested.

On ice for the opening two rounds, the All Blacks incumbent No7 will be unleashed on the Hurricanes as Super Rugby's top two sides lock horns.

The Chiefs co-captain, Cane has been nursing an ankle niggle, and in his place Mitch Karpik has done well against the Highlanders, while Lachlan Boshier was spectacular against the Blues.


The latter has pedigree, having played for New Zealand Under-20s in 2014, and was ubiquitous last Friday night, disrupting Blues' ball, forcing turnovers and doing a lot of tackling and tidy-up work. The 22-year-old Boshier made seven appearances, including one start, for two tries in 2016.

Coach Dave Rennie now has a slight headache in his loose forwards selections, with Liam Messam and Michael Leitch likely to stay in the Nos6 and 8 jerseys in the short-term on form. Tom Sanders is waiting in the wings and can play all three positions.

But Rennie knows that he can now call on two extra opensides who can handle this level with aplomb.

"We are fortunate. We've got some good sevens, haven't we? I know there were question marks over why we started Lachie last week, but I think everyone got to see why in the end," said Rennie. "In all likelihood, we'll start Sam and one of those guys will back up. We don't need to start Sam every week, obviously he's missed a couple already."

Cane started the Reds game last year at No8 and finished several games in that position, and offers skills, smarts and dominant tackling. Rennie confirmed he could be a future option at the back of the scrum, with one of Boshier and Karpik at No7.

Ardie Savea has started, much like the Hurricanes, at full throttle, playing in his usual dynamic fashion for the 2016 champions. But they are about to face their first major challenge.

There is no evidence to suggest they will not front up, but if the Chiefs forwards go about their work as they did against the Blues, it might be the sort of bone-crunching encounter that typifies the New Zealand conference.

Tim Nanai-Williams sat out Chiefs training yesterday with a hip niggle, while former All Blacks flyer Lelia Masaga was back from Japan and with the group. Rennie said he could feature down the track if there were injuries in the outsides.