By Campbell Burnes
Julian Savea will run out on his home ground before his people in his 100th match for the Hurricanes on Friday night against the Chiefs.
The 26-year-old joins some of the great franchise players in reaching the milestone, which will see him receive the traditional greenstone mere from New Zealand Rugby after the encounter.
Savea, who has 45 tries from his 99 appearances, has been in solid form in 2017, with six tries from his 11 outings, though he has been somewhat overshadowed by the midfield pairing of Vince Aso and Ngani Laumape, who have 14 tries each to their names. However, this season has been far better than his first (2011) when he totally lost confidence and 2016, when fitness issues saw him benched as the Hurricanes surged towards the title.
There will be no concerns from the All Blacks selectors, who will name him in their squad for the Samoa and Lions tests tomorrow.
Savea himself is looking to cap a good week, in which he discovered he would be a father for the second time later in the year.
"I can't believe it. It (Hurricanes career) has gone really fast. I'm just really honoured and privileged to get this opportunity. This is massive for me and my family. I'm thankful to the club for all their help over the years. To join legends of the Hurricanes and the world (of rugby) is humbling," says Savea.
He follows Hurricanes centurions Tana Umaga, Rodney So'oialo, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, Jeremy Thrush, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Victor Vito and Cory Jane.
Jane, Dane Coles and Beauden Barrett are the surviving Hurricanes from Savea's first season, with Barrett and Coles not far off the century either, though Coles has been stranded on 98 for nearly three months.
Savea, who was rested for the Force match last weekend, returns in place of Ben Lam, while Nehe Milner-Skudder, after a 25 minute cameo against the Force, is straight into the starting line-up at the expense of Jane.
Matt Proctor will make his return to full Hurricanes colours via the bench after seven weeks on the sideline. There is a whole new front-row, with a shoulder injury removing Ben May from the equation, and Ricky Riccitelli working through his concussion protocols, but he should be fine to wear the No 16 jersey unless he has symptoms by Friday morning. Mark Abbott is also back from concussion via the bench.
Ardie Savea reverts to No 8 after subbing on last week, with Brad Shields shifting to blindside flanker. Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd wanted to have his three top loosies on the park to combat the Chiefs in that area.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Ardie Savea, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Vaea Fifita, Sam Lousi, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Leni Apisai, Chris Eves
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli/James O'Reilly, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Reed Prinsep, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Matt Proctor, Wes Goosen