WELLINGTON - The Highlanders have made three changes to their forward pack for the pivotal Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Dunedin.
In a bid to overturn a terrible home record against the Chiefs, Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph introduced flanker Elliot Dixon, lock Tom Franklin and hooker Brayden Mitchell to the starting team.
Gone from the side beaten 38-31 by the Reds in Brisbane are flanker Gareth Evans, lock Jarrad Hoeata and hooker Liam Coltman.
One forward not considered was flanker John Hardie, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. He is expected to be out for eight weeks.
Joseph has named all three of his All Black backs in the starting line-up halfback Aaron Smith, centre Malakai Fekitoa and fullback Ben Smith while winger Patrick Osborne is also included after providing injury cover during New Zealand's 3-0 series win over England.
Highlanders: Ben Smith (co-capt), Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu (co-capt), Shane Christie, Elliot Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Tom Franklin, Ma'afu Fia, Brayden Mitchell, Kane Hames. Res: Ged Robinson, Matias Diaz, Chris King, Josh Bekhuis, Lee Allan, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Phil Burleigh.