The Highlanders are boosted by the return of forward duo Jackson Hemopo and Dillon Hunt for the Super Rugby clash with the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
The return of lock Hemopo and flanker Hunt to the pack, Patelesio Tomkinsons’ selection in the midfield and Aaron Smith back at scrum-half are the main features of the Highlanders team to take on the Waratahs on Saturday.
Hemopo replaces veteran lock Alex Ainley and the hard-working Hunt returns for James Lentjes.
In the backs, Smith takes the place of the well performed Kayne Hammington, and Tevita Li is back from injury and will take a spot on the bench.
Tomkinson gets his first starting opportunity in the midfield with Teihorangi Walden sitting the game out after experiencing concussion symptoms during the week.
A former NZ U20 player, Tomkinson, is a hard-hitting young midfielder from Otago who has had limited opportunities since joining the club last season.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Nabura, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ash Dixon (cc), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Tevita Li
Date: Saturday, May 19
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Kick-off: 19:45 local (09:45 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)