The Wellington Lions captain and 2015 NZ Barbarians skipper will wear the armband for the Hurricanes in Friday's night's clash with the Brumbies in Napier.
Loose forward Brad Shields will lead the Hurricanes for the first time in his 76th game for the franchise. Hooker Dane Coles is still not quite right, and will now surely be aiming for a May 5 return against the Stormers, while stand-in captain TJ Perenara will come off the bench, giving Taranaki's Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi his first start. Ben Lam will wear No 23 and is in line to make his Hurricanes' debut after literally waiting in the wings for two months.
Cory Jane slots back onto the right wing.
Blade Thomson returns to the field eight weeks after dislocating his shoulder during the Hurricanes' round one win over the Sunwolves, and he will play at No 8, pushing Ardie Savea back to his usual No 7 jersey. Vaea Fifita replaces Michael Fatialofa who suffered a knee injury at Eden Park. In all, coach Chris Boyd has made four changes.
Friday night's match will be the 10th time the Hurricanes have played at McLean Park, but the first time against the Australian conference-leading Brumbies. In previous matches in Napier, the Hurricanes have won six and lost three.
The Hurricanes have not faced the Brumbies since their infamous 52-10 drubbing in Canberra to kick off the 2016 season, but revenge is not likely to be uppermost in their thoughts. Rather, they will look to reassert themselves on attack after an often middling display, with the notable exception of Beauden Barrett, against the Blues, and of course combat the vaunted Brumbies' lineout drive.
The Brumbies, who have a 3-4 losing record, have made two changes, but have firepower in the backs via the likes of Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight, and Scotty Fardy and skipper Sam Carter in the pack. Props Nic Mayhew and the veteran Ben Alexander are substitutes.
Anything less than a 20-point Hurricanes' victory would be surprising.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields (c), Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, James Blackwell, Callum Gibbins, TJ Perenara, Otere Black, Ben Lam
Brumbies: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, James Dargaville, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jarrad Butler, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter (c), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Scott Sio
Reserves: Robbie Abel, Nic Mayhew, Ben Alexander, Blake Enever, Lolo Fakaosilea, De Wet Roos, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Nigel Ah Wong