Wellington - The Hurricanes have dropped skipper Andrew Hore for this week's Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Western Force but will welcome back centre Conrad Smith from a gruesome nose injury.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett denied Hore's relegation to the bench dented the 50-Test hooker's chances of making the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad, saying he simply wanted to give replacement Dane Coles a run.
"(Hore's) a good old battler, he's been there week in week out," Hammett told reporters.
"It's a good chance for him - we want to see his Rugby World Cup dream realised and he'll be back in there without a doubt.
"It's always difficult (being benched), especially when you've been the heart and soul in that position and you're an 80-minute man. I realise there's a frustration around that, but he'll be fine."
Hore, 33, has struggled for form this season and his Hurricanes have recorded only three wins, slumping out of play-offs contention.
However, the Hurricanes side received some good news with the return of All Blacks Cory Jane and Smith, who has been sidelined since breaking his nose during a loss to the Brumbies six weeks ago.
Such an injury would normally involve a two- to three-week lay-off but Smith said he needed an operation after doctors told him his nose was so badly damaged there was a danger of the bone spearing into his brain.
"That's why they had to operate," Smith told the Dominion Post newspaper.
"You always think 'I can play on and they can operate at the end of the year' but that was their warning.
"Because there was no cartilage there, there was just bone and then the brain. It was a pretty easy decision to have the operation then, even if it meant missing a few weeks... another knock there, I could have been in trouble."
Jane has been out for four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Hurricanes: 15. Cory Jane, 14. Andre Taylor, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Hosea Gear, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Chris Eaton, 8. Victor Vito (captain), 7. Jack Lam, 6. Faifili Levave, 5. James Broadhurst, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 3. Neemia Tialata, 2. Dane Coles , 1. John Schwalger
Substitutes: 16. Andrew Hore, 17. Jacob Ellison, 18. Bryn Evans, 19. Mark Reddish, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Jayden Hayward, 22. Julian Savea