The Highlanders welcome back Colin Slade to the starting line-up for Friday's Super Rugby derby clash with the Hurricanes in Dunedin.
The injury-prone All Black replaces Lima Sopoaga, who had a nightmare of a game against the Cheetahs last weekend.
However, there is still no sign of centre Ma'a Nonu (injured knee) as the Highlanders seek their first win of the season.
As a result, Phil Burleigh partners Jason Emery in midfield with the latter making his Highlanders and Super Rugby debut.
Other changes made by Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph sees lock Jarrad Hoeata return to the second row while Elliot Dixon takes over at number eight.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Joe Wheeler, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Jake Paringatai, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Buxton Popoalii.
Date: Friday, March 15
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)