Hurricanes captain Dane Coles is making good progress in his bid to feature in the Super Rugby final against Lions at Westpac Stadium on Saturday, according to head coach Chris Boyd.
Coles sustained a rib injury in the 41-0 quarter-final victory over Sharks and was withdrawn in the second half.
The 29-year-old hooker was replaced by Ricky Riccitelli as Hurricanes booked their place in the final with a 25-9 win against Chiefs, despite being initially included in the line-up.
Coles has once again been named in the starting XV ahead of the final and Boyd is hopeful he will be fit enough to feature.
"Colesy has made good progress each day and clearly he's very keen to play in the final," said Boyd.
"He will do everything he can to be fit for kick-off and if he doesn't make it then we have every confidence Ricky and Leni Apisai [who would be among the replacements in Coles' absence] step up and do a good job if required.
"It's a similar situation on the bench where we're very fortunate to have some quality depth should Callum [Gibbins] or Reggie [Goodes] not be able to prove their fitness in time.
"We will give them all as much time as they need before making the final call."
Lions, meanwhile, have been boosted by the return of captain Warren Whiteley.
The number eight suffered a shoulder injury in South Africa's 19-13 win over Wales in June but will make his return in Wellington.
"I'm grateful to be back and to contribute again. It was important for me to play this weekend," said Whiteley.
"I just want to do my job and I don't want to do anything different to what I have done all season."
Hurricanes team to face Lions: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito; Loni Uhila, Dane Coles/Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Vaea Fifita, Michael Fatialofa, Brad Shields, Ardie Savea.
Replacements: Ricky Riccitelli/Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Michael Kainga/Reggie Goodes, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins/Tony Lamborn, Jamison Gibson-Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea.
Lions team to face Hurricanes: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Courtnal Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk; Dylan Smith, Malcolm Marx, Julian Redelinghuys, Andries Ferreira, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Warwick Tecklenburg, Warren Whiteley.
Replacements: Armand van der Merwe, Corne Fourie, Jacques van Rooyen, Lourens Erasmus, Ruan Ackermann, Ross Cronje, Howard Mnisi, Jaco van der Walt.