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James Lentjes will lead a team short on experience against the Waratahs at Leichhardt Oval, in the first pre-season match of 2020.
He will join rookies Sione Misiloi and Teariki Ben-Nicholas in the loose forwards.
Ayden Johnstone adds experience to a front row which also contains Nathan Vella and Josh Iosefa-Scott.
Pari Pari Parkinson and Jesse Parete pair as the locks.
Former Crusader Mitch Hunt makes his first appearance in blue at first five-eighth.
He will play outside Kayne Hammington, while Josh Ioane and Sio Tomkinson form the midfield.
Tima Fainga’anuku, Scott Gregory and Josh McKay make up the back three.
The team has also named 13 players in the reserves.
It will be one of two pre-season matches the team plays. It also faces the Crusaders in Wanaka next Friday.
The Highlanders then have a bye in the first round of Super Rugby, before playing the Sharks at Forsyth Barr Stadium on February 7.
Highlanders v Waratahs
Highlanders: Josh McKay, Tima Fainga'anuku, Sio Tomkinson, Josh Ioane, Scott Gregory, Mitch Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, James Lentjes (c), Sione Misiloi, Pari Pari Parkinson, Jesse Parete, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Nathan Vella, Ayden Johnstone. Reserves: Daniel Lienert-Brown, Sebastian Siataga, Isaac Salmon, Josh Dickson, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Folau Fakatava, Bryn Gatland, Dillon Hunt, Kirisi Kuridrani, Jona Nareki, Zane Kapeli, Michael Collins, Aleki Morris.