Former All Blacks stalwart Brad Thorn will make his Highlanders debut in Saturday's Super Rugby pre-season match against the Chiefs in Taupo.
Winger Hosea Gear will captain the side, while fellow All Black Ben Smith will start at full-back and New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith is on the bench.
Tasman loose forward Joe Wheeler and former Wellington halfback Frae Wilson are the others to play for the southerners for the first time.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Buxton Popoali'i, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear (c), 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Frae Wilson, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements (from): Jason Emery, Tony Ensor, Kade Poki, Hayden Parker, Trent Renata, Aaron Smith, Fumiaki Tanaka, Josh Bekhuis, Hugh Blake, Tom Franklin, Paul Grant, Brayden Mitchell, Bronson Murray, Sam Prattley.