Recently re-signed midfielder Teihorangi Walden will miss the Highlanders' clash against the Waratahs this Saturday due to concussion.
The 24-year-old experienced concussion symptoms in the lead in to the match, and young back Sio Tomkinson will get a crack in the starting line up.
Tomkinson has had limited opportunities with the club this season, though has shown glimpses of his ability when he taken to the pitch.
Having appeared in four of the side's 10 matches this season, Tomkinson will look to make the most of the extra minutes. His addition was one of four changes to the starting lineup who beat the Lions last round.
Aaron Smith returns to the starting halfback role, while loose forward Dillon Hunt and lock Jackson Hemopo move into the pack.
The strong performance of Tevita Nabura on the wing has earned him another start, with Tevita Li returns from injury in a bench role.
The side will look to continue their charge toward a playoff spot against a Waratahs team who will feel like they let one get away last round.
Going up 29-0 against the Crusaders, the Waratahs weren't able to close out the result and will look to bounce back on home soil.
Highlanders: Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Tevita Nabura, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Dillon Hunt, Elliot Dixon, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Tyrel Lomax, Ash Dixon (cc), Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli, Kalolo Tuiloma, Shannon Frizell, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Kayne Hammington, Josh Ioane, Tevita Li.