In one of six changes, Keven Mealamu will start in his final Vodacom Super Rugby game for the Blues against the Highlanders.
The All Blacks hooker returns to the starting lineup ahead of James Parsons and will lead the team in his 175th and final Super Rugby appearance on Friday.
In other changes to the pack, Angus Ta’avao gets the nod at loosehead prop ahead of Ofa Tu'ungafasi, who drops out of the match 23. At No 4 lock, Hayden Triggs comes in for Will Lloyd, who shifts to the bench and in the back row Chris Vui will start at blindside flank, with Joe Edwards moving to No 8, replacing Airi Hunt.
Among the backs, Charles Piutau returns at fullback after a five-week injury lay-off and Jamison Gibson-Park is favoured at scrumhalf, with Jimmy Cowan named as a reserve.
Blues – 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hamish North, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Sam Prattley.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Jack Ram, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Lolagi Visinia.
Photo: Jason Oxenham/Getty Images