Jimmy Cowan has retained the Highlanders No 9 jersey for the team’s clash against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Aaron Smith has started in the Landers’ wins over the Crusaders and Waratahs in the past two weeks, with All Black Cowan riding the bench after a disappointing performance in the opening round victory against the Chiefs. Head coach Jamie Joseph has decided to rotate his halfbacks for the trip to Wellington.
There are two other changes in the backline. Colin Slade shifts from fullback to flyhalf to fill in for injured 10 Liam Sopaga (shoulder). Ben Smith, who was sidelined with a concussion last week, starts in the No 15 jersey.
The only change among the forwards sees tighthead prop Ma’afu Fia get his first start of the season as he slots in for the injured Chris King (groin).
Highlanders - 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Phil Bureligh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Subs: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Cullum Retallick, 19 James Haskell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Chris Noakes, 22 Buxton Popali’i.