Ben Smith has recovered from a leg infection and will start for the Highlanders against the Sharks this Saturday.
The All Blacks fullback missed the Highlanders' last match against the Crusaders in Chrischurch. The Highlanders missed his presence at the back, and will be undoubtedly lifted by his return for the qualifying play-off in Durban.
Lima Sopoaga will start at flyhalf in place of Hayden Parker. Up front, Ged Robinson is preferred at hooker and Jarrad Hoeata at lock.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (c), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames.
Subts: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 JP Koen, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Tom Franklin, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Gareth Evans.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images