Former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn returns to the Highlanders starting XV for Friday's Super Rugby derby with the Hurricanes in Dunedin.
Former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn returns to the Highlanders starting XV for Friday's Super Rugby derby with the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Coach Jamie Joseph has the luxury of a fully fit squad as Thorn has recovered from a rib injury suffered in the Highlanders' opening win against the Blues.
The Highlanders narrowly lost to the Force on Saturday and have a short six-day turnaround before facing a buoyant Hurricanes side coming off a massive win against the Cheetahs in Wellington.
Tighthead prop Ma'afu Fia gets his first start of the 2014 season in the front-row, taking over from Chris King.
Phil Burleigh will also receive his first start at 12 for the season ahead of Shaun Treeby.
Patrick Osborne returns from a high ankle injury to start on the wing as Kurt Baker drops out of the matchday 23.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Chris King, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Shaun Treeby .
Date: Friday, March 21
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 local (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)