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Michael Collins replaces Josh McKay at fullback, while Kirisi Kuridrani comes in for the suspended Sio Tomkinson to make his debut on the right wing.
Rob Thompson returns from injury to slot in at centre.
McKay drops back to the bench, while Dillon Hunt drops out of the squad as the side opts for a 5-3 forward-back split.
While the side is coming off a gutsy 23-22 win over the Brumbies, coach Aaron Mauger knew this week's match in Christchurch would be another big challenge.
"Their record at home tells you all you need to know about how well they play in Christchurch, every team that plays there knows what to expect,'' he said.
"This week for us is about enjoying another opportunity to test ourselves and we are looking forward to that."
Highlanders team to play the Crusaders
Michael Collins, Kirisi Kuridrani, Rob Thompson, Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, James Lentjes (c), Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Jesse Parete, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Conan O'Donnell, Jack Whetton, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kayne Hammington, Tei Walden, Josh McKay.