Wellington - Hurricanes open side flank Ardie Savea will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of the Super Rugby final but veteran wing Cory Jane has ruled himself out of the game, coach Chris Boyd said on Thursday.
Callum Gibbins would play in Savea's place if he is unable to start Saturday's match against the Highlanders at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Savea, considered unlucky not to have made the extended All Blacks squad this season, injured his knee in the team's 29-9 semi-final victory over the Brumbies last Saturday.
"He has made really, really good progress since Saturday," Boyd told reporters after a Hurricanes training session on Thursday, where Savea had undergone some tests.
"I think there is a good likelihood he will play.
"If necessary we will give him until right before kick-off but I think we'll get a pretty clear indication that we'll get a positive result."
Jane, who is battling a hamstring injury, had told Boyd he was not ready to play, despite it being the first time the Hurricanes had made the final in his eight years with the team.
"He came into my office and said, 'It's an easy conversation, I'm ruling myself out', and I thought that was a really mature decision from a guy who has been with the club a long time," said Boyd.
"(He was) desperate to play the final but he knew in his heart that his hamstring was not quite ready so he withdrew himself from selection."
Winger Nehe Milner-Skudder, who had a slight hamstring injury that forced him off at halftime against the Brumbies, was named in the side.
"Nehe has been fine all week," Boyd added. "It was probably precautionary that we withdrew him at halftime last week. He's in good shape."
Six of the Hurricanes match day squad of 23 will be playing their final game for the side, with All Blacks Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Jeremy Thrush and Ben Franks all heading abroad after the World Cup later this year.
Replacement centre Ray Lee-Lo and scrumhalf Chris Smylie are also leaving.
Hooker Motu Matu'u is the only change from last week's side as he has recovered from a knee injury and will deputise from the bench for All Blacks hooker Dane Coles.
15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea/Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes
Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Mark Abbott/Callum Gibbins, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 Matt Proctor
15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12
Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoage, 9 Aaron Smith, 8
Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Mark Reddish,
4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brandon Edmonds
16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Joe
Wheeler, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Shane Christie, 22 Fumiaki Tanaka, 23 Marty