The Highlanders will be without Aaron Smith for Saturday’s match against the Lions in Dunedin.
It will be the first of two matches the All Blacks scrumhalf is required to sit out before the three-Test series against France in June. As a result, Kayne Hammington will make his second start of the season at No 9.
Flanker Dillon Hunt is also being rested, with James Lentjes wearing the No 7 openside jersey for the first time in 2018.
However, the Highlanders will still have captain Ben Smith, who has yet to miss a match this season.
The Highlanders lost 38-12 to the Sharks in Durban last Saturday, while the Lions went down 28-19 to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
The Lions, who will be without injured star hooker Malcolm Marx, have only beaten the Highlanders once in Dunedin, way back in 2011.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Nabura, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Sio Tomkinson.
Photo: Dianne Manson/Getty Images)