All Blacks Liam Squire and Waisake Naholo have been left out of the Highlanders team to face the Chiefs in Friday's Super Rugby opener in Hamilton.
Halfback Aaron Smith has been named to a strong bench alongside fellow internationals Dillon Hunt and Shannon Frizell, as Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger looks to ease his All Blacks contingent back into game shape.
The 23-year-old Josh Ioane will start at first-five outside halfback Kayne Hammington, both rewarded for some impressive pre-season form.
Rising All Blacks flanker Jackson Hemopo will wear the number six jersey in place of Squire, while Matt Faddes slots into Naholo's regular role on the right wing.
Number eight Luke Whitelock will co-captain the side with Ben Smith, who starts at fullback.
Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Liam Coltman, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 4. Pari Pari Parkinson, 5. Josh Dickson, 6. Jackson Hemopo, 7. James Lentjes, 8. Luke Whitelock (cc), 9. Kayne Hammington, 10. Josh Ioane, 11. Tevita Li, 12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 13. Rob Thompson, 14. Matt Faddes, 15. Ben Smith (cc)
Replacements: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, Aaron Smith, Bryn Gatland, Patelesio Tomkinson