Highlanders wing Hosea Gear admits that he is enjoying his stint as the Dunedin-based franchise's captain while Andrew Hore is on the sidelines due to suspension.
Gear has skippered the Highlanders in all three their pre-season matches - against the Crusaders, Chiefs and Blues - while Hore, who was announced as the Highlanders 2013 captain last year, serves a five-week ban for striking Wales lock Bradley Davies during a Test for the All Blacks in Cardiff last year.
Hore will miss the Highlanders' season opener against the Chiefs in Dunedin on Friday.
The Highlanders have a bye in Round Three which means the hooker will only return to action against the Cheetahs in Invercargill on March 9.
Gear admitted that he was thrilled to be captaining the Highlanders.
"It's been challenging at times but I'm fortunate that we've got a lot of experienced guys in the side," he told Fairfax Media.
"That definitely takes a load off my shoulders. Trying to get the boys to gel together is the most important thing for me."
So how is he coping with the idea of handing over the captaincy duties when Hore returns?
"I'm sort of getting used to it, eh," he joked.
"It's like I said, I don't think my role will change much. We are more of a group as opposed to one guy leading the team."