James Marshall will play at first-five for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs in New Plymouth on Saturday as Beauden Barrett sits out due to a calf strain.
Barrett only made his return following a month off due to a knee injury in last Friday's 56-20 win over the Highlanders in Napier but after he tweaked his calf this week, Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd decided it wasn't worth risking the All Black with the playoffs looming.
It will be disappointing for Barrett, who is a proud Taranaki product, and despite the union now being aligned with the Chiefs, there are many players within the Hurricanes squad that have ties to the Amber and Blacks.
Following their meeting with the Chiefs, the Hurricanes have a bye during the opening round of the finals before they host a semifinal at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday, June 27.
"He'll be fine," Boyd said of Barrett. "He could have played this week but we've got this week and next week [off] and the key game is a fortnight away for us."
This week's match has more on the line for the Chiefs who will be looking to secure home advantage for next week's round of knockout matches.
The Hurricanes have confirmed top spot on the ladder but Boyd said he didn't have a firm starting XV in mind ahead of the playoffs, so that could serve as motivation for his men this week.
"There's people still playing for positions and I think that's important," Boyd said.
Marshall will likely receive a warm reception at Yarrow Stadium on Saturday given he led Taranaki to last year's ITM Cup title. The utility is one of a raft of changes to the side that beat the Highlanders last week.
Lock Mark Abbott and Taranaki-born flanker Callum Gibbins move into the starting line-up, along with loose forward Brad Shields.
Lock James Broadhurst and flanker Ardie Savea have dropped to the bench due to their heavy playing loads, while loose forward Blade Thomson is out with an ankle problem.
In the backs, with Marshall moving from fullback to pivot, Nehe Milner-Skudder returns to the No 15 jersey as Cory Jane comes back on the wing; second-five Ma'a Nonu will rest this week.
Reserve halfback Chris Smylie is out with a hamstring problem giving Frae Wilson an opportunity, while outside back Sam McNicol could make his Super Rugby debut via the pine.
Halfback TJ Perenara will have an opportunity to add to his Super Rugby-best 10 tries this weekend.
"He runs really optimistic lines, TJ, so he's got a good sniff to know where the breaks are going to be," Boyd said. "He's a smart footballer. He knows where he needs to be to get that pass."
Conrad Smith, who became the most successful Hurricanes captain as he registered his 33rd victory last week, will equal Nonu as the most capped player for the franchise with 124 appearances when he starts at centre.
Hurricanes team to face Chiefs in New Plymouth on Saturday night:
Nehe Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (c), Rey Lee-Lo, Julian Savea, James Marshall, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Mark Abbott, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Dane Coles, Reggie Goodes.
Reserves: Brayden Mitchell, Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Ardie Savea, Frae Wilson, Willis Halaholo, Sam McNicol.