However, eight-Test flanker Liam Squire returns from injury to boost the Highlanders, who are fourth in the New Zealand conference and set to meet either South Africa's high-flying Lions or competition-leading countrymen the Crusaders in the quarter-finals.
Halfback Aaron Smith is rested after playing every match in the All Blacks' drawn Test series with the British and Irish Lions, while influential fullback Smith has been given another week off after vertigo kept him out of the final two tests.
RNZI reports Waisake Naholo returns to start on the right wing after missing Saturday's test with a concussion, while Malakai Fekitoa has been named at centre after playing at Eden Park.
Coach Tony Brown says the team is looking forward to a strong performance in what could be their last home game.
Highlanders: Richard Buckman, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Rob Thompson, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Kayne Hammington, Luke Whitelock (co-captain), James Lentjes, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Ash Dixon (co-captain), Aki Seiuli, Guy Millar, Gareth Evans, Dan Pryor, Josh Renton, Marty Banks, Patelesio Tomkinson.