Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy on the line
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has continued to shake up his team as he looks to find a winning formula.
Joseph made several changes - including axing All Blacks Ma'a Nonu, Aaron Smith and Tony Woodcock - ahead of the Super Rugby encounter with the Blues in Dunedin on Saturday.
The match takes on additional significance with The Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy on the line.
The trophy honours one of the characters of Otago rugby who was also in the unique position of having coached both the Highlanders and the Blues.
There are seven changes to the starting side from that which lost to the Western Force in Perth last weekend, an 11th defeat from 12 matches.
Joseph has made a habit of wielding bulk changes and reputation has often counted for little.
Nonu, who was ineffective in Perth, is demoted to the replacement bench and hands the No.12 jersey to Shaun Treeby, who sat out last week with concussion.
Smith's form has also fluctuated this season and he finds himself on the bench for the second time. Japanese scrumhalf Fumiaka Tanaka will start.
Woodcock has missed out on the matchday 22 altogether, with Jamie Mackintosh to make his fourth start of the season on the loosehead prop.
Two other changes to the backline see Trent Renata introduced on the right wing for Jason Emery and Colin Slade restored at flyhalf ahead of Hayden Parker.
Up front, Jarrad Hoeata starts at blindside flank ahead of TJ Ioane, while captain Andrew Hore returns as starting hooker, replacing Liam Coltman.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Trent Renata, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Andrew Hore (captain), 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Elliot Dixon, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Ma'a Nonu.
Date: Saturday, June 1
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Keith Brown (New Zealand)