Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd is confident of having the services of Ardie Savea for Saturday's Super Rugby final and will leave it as late as possible for the openside flanker to prove his fitness.
Savea, who left the field during the second half of the semifinal against the Brumbies last weekend, has been laboured by a knee injury this week but he was named to start - albeit with an asterisks - today and got through most of training at Rugby League Park in Newtown this afternoon.
"He's made really, really good progress since Saturday and I think there's a good likelihood that he'll play," Boyd said of Savea.
"If necessary we'll give him right until kick-off but I think we'll probably have a clear indication beforehand."
If Savea wasn't able to play, Manawatu's Callum Gibbins would start. Gibbins has been reliable in relief duty for the Hurricanes this season and even started a few games alongside Savea in the loose forwards. If Savea was to start, Gibbins would join the bench, pushing lock Mark Abbott out of the reserves.
The 21-year-old Savea offers a different edge with ball in hand though and his dynamic running game, which was on display in the 29-9 semifinal win over the Brumbies, would be an asset against the Highlanders in Wellington on Saturday.
"He's been in red-hot form. I thought he played particularly well in the 50 minutes he had last week," Boyd said.
While the news appeared to be positive around Savea, the same couldn't be said for veteran wing Cory Jane who wasn't named in the match-day 23 as he continued to battle a hamstring problem.
Jane sat down and spoke with Boyd, which the coach likened to a school headmaster having to engage in a tough conversation with a pupil.
"He said: 'I'm ruling myself out'," Boyd said. "So I thought that was a really mature attitude for a guy who's been in the club for a long time, desperate to play in a final. But he knew in his heart that he wasn't quite right that that hamstring's just not ready. So he withdrew himself and he wasn't eligible for selection."
With Jane out, Nehe Milner-Skudder - another player who had been battling a hamstring niggle - will play on the right wing, as he did against the Brumbies, with James Marshall set to start at fullback again.
Reserve hooker Motu Matu'u has returned from a knee injury to play behind Dane Coles, which bumps Brayden Mitchell off the pine.
A collection of experienced players will leave the Hurricanes after the final but Boyd said they weren't tapping in to that emotion to lift the side this week.
"There's no emotional button for this game. We need to keep clear minds and just make sure we stick to a process around what we need to do."
The Highlanders were due to arrive in the capital tomorrow evening having beaten the Chiefs and Waratahs in knockout matches to progress to the final.
"They're absolutely worthy finalists," Boyd said.