The return of uncompromising All Black lock Brad Thorn has boosted the Highlanders ahead of their Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes in Dunedin.
Thorn is back from a rib injury to start at lock in place of fellow All Black Jarrad Hoeata.
However, John Hardie has paid the price for the Highlanders loss' to the Western Force last week.
The Southland flank has been left out of the squad for Friday's outing.
Elliott Dixon will take his place at blindside flank.
Prop Ma'afu Fia and inside centre Phil Burleigh have been named to make their first starts of the season, replacing Chris King and Shaun Treeby - who drop to the bench.
Patrick Osbourne is also back from a high ankle sprain to start on the left wing.
The Highlanders narrowly lost to the Western Force last Saturday and have a short six day turn around before facing a buoyant Hurricanes side coming off a massive win against the Cheetahs in Wellington.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Chris King, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Shaun Treeby.
Date: Friday, March 21
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Watt (New Zealand)