Marty Banks will for the first time this season start at fly-half for the Highlanders in their derby clash with Blues on Friday.
Elsewhere in the backs, Thomas Umaga-Jensen will again partner Patelesio Tomkinson in the midfield, while half-backs Folau Fakatava and Josh Ioane will provide cover in the playmaking positions, with the versatile Richard Buckman rounding out the back reserves.
Meanwhile, the forwards will have the experience of Liam Coltman, Tom Franklin and Luke Whitelock combined with exciting young players Pari Pari Parkinson and Shannon Frizell.
Hooker Ray Niuia will get his first start from the bench with Josh Dickson and Jackson Hemopo adding plenty of size to the game-day 23.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (cc), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Richard Buckman
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa) Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand) TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)