The inclusion of flank Liam Squire is one of six changes to the Highlanders side that will take on the Vodacom Bulls in Dunedin on Friday.
Squire, playing in his first match of the season, replaces Elliot Dixon in the loose trio, while the fit-again Jackson Hemopo starts at No 4 lock ahead of Pari-Pari Parkinson.
There is one change to the front row, where Ayden Johnstone comes in on the loosehead side of the scrum as a result of an injury to Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Fullback Josh McKay, wing Tevita Li and flyhalf Josh Ioane have also been recalled to the starting lineup ahead of Matt Faddes, Jordan Hyland and Marty Banks.
Highlanders – 15 Josh McKay, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (c), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joshua Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen.
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