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Loose forward Shannon Frizell is out for up to six weeks after injuring his ankle in the final minutes of last week’s game against the Rebels in Sydney.
The injury occurred when he was contesting a kick-off, and he limped off soon afterwards.
His injury may force him out of the July test series, though it is touch and go.
Also not making an appearance is halfback and co-captain Aaron Smith, who has dropped out of the entire squad. Smith has played four games in a row and is under load management by the All Blacks selectors.
Smith’s absence will be felt, but it has been a bonus for Kayne Hammington, who will come in and play his 50th game of Super Rugby for the Highlanders.
He made his first start for the Highlanders in 2017 in a commanding win over the Force and since then has been mainly sitting on the bench, first behind Aaron Smith and then this season Folau Fakatava.
Other changes have been made in the front row, where Ash Dixon, who will captain the side, comes in for Liam Coltman. Bryn Evans is back at lock with Josh Dickson pushed to the bench.
James Lentjes replaces Frizell and coach Clarke Dermody said Lentjes had made a real mark with his defensive presence last week.
He will be used as a lineout jumper. Billy Harmon and Kazuki Himeno return to the starting team.
In the backs, Hammington is the only change in the starting side.
On the bench, Daniel Lienert-Brown is back after a long absence since breaking his arm in early March. He played well for University in a club game last week.
Green Island halfback James Arscott comes on to the bench and will make his debut at this level should he get on.
Teariki Ben-Nicholas makes his first appearance of the season coming in as the extra forward reserve.
The Waratahs have not won a game all season but the Highlanders will not be taking them lightly. Dermody said the Waratahs do not have anything to lose and will run everything and not stop moving the ball. They will enjoy playing under the roof and so it was up to the Highlanders to show some discipline, and the side must stay in its defensive structures.
Highlanders v Waratahs, Dunedin, tomorrow, 7.05pm
Highlanders: Josh Ioane, Sio Tomkinson, Michael Collins, Scott Gregory, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Kazuki Himeno, Billy Harmon, James Lentjes, Bryan Evans, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (captain), Ethan De Groot.
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Hohneck, Josh Dickson, Hugh Renton, James Arscott, Sam Gilbert, Teariki Ben-Nicholas