Two key Highlanders will miss Friday night's Super Rugby derby against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Having lost first five Marty Banks to a broken foot, co-captain Luke Whitelock has been ruled out with a calf issue.
Openside flanker James Lentjes says that's the nature of intra-conference play.
“These Kiwi derbys are always physical, so you can always expect to lose a couple of players here and there, so it’s just a chance for someone else to step up and get involved.”
That will be first-five Josh Ioane, who will start his first match since their round four loss to the Hurricanes last month.
Fullback Ben Smith will captain the side on his 150th Super Rugby match for the Highlanders, taking the armband duties from Luke Whitelock who has been ruled out due to a calf niggle.
Highlanders: Ben Smith (captain), Matt Faddes, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Josh Ioane, Kayne Hammington, Elliot Dixon, James Lentjes, Shannon Frizell, Tom Franklin, Pari Pari Parkinson, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves:Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Dickson, Jackson Hemopo, Folau Fakatava, Bryn Gatland, Sio Tomkinson