Highlanders have included debutants Sam Gilbert and Vilimoni Koroi in their matchday squad for the Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against Chiefs to be played in Dunedin on Saturday.
Cantebury wing Gilbert is among the surprise inclusion as he is named at right wing. Koroi has been preparing for Tokyo Olympics with the All Blacks Sevens team but with the tournament postponed, he has joined Highlanders and will start on the bench.
"He's been a standout over these past three weeks and forced his way in to the squad through our intensity sessions," coach Aaron Mauger said of Gilbert.
"He really nailed our internal game, and he deserves that spot."
Jona Nareki will take position at left wing and Mitch Hunt at fullback while the centre partnership comprise of Patelesio Tomkinson and Rob Thompson. Aaron Smith and Josh Ioane will form the halfback partnership with skipper Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone and Siate Tokolahi in front row and Paripari Parkinson alongwith Josh Dickson at second row.
Highlanders team: Mitch Hunt, Sam Gilbert, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Josh Ioane, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (c), Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kayne Hammington, Teihorangi Walden, Vilimoni Koroi.