The Highlanders have welcomed back their big names for the Super Rugby derby against the Hurricanes in Dunedin tomorrow night.

Blindside flanker Liam Squire is set to make his first start since suffering a broken thumb against the Crusaders in March, while fellow All Blacks Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock also return after being rested in last week's scrappy 18-15 win over the Reds in Brisbane.

The refreshed Highlanders have an intimidating look — boasting 10 current or past All Blacks — as they hope to maintain their perfect record at home.

There's no lack of quality on the bench either, with All Black rookie Shannon Frizell ready to be unleashed in the second half along with Liam Coltman, Elliot Dixon and Richard Buckman.


Prop Kalolo Tuiloma earns his first start of the season after a series of impressive performances off the bench.

Assistant coach Mark Hammett said the team is looking forward to playing in front of their home crowd again after spending much of the past five weeks on the road.

"We have had four of our last five weeks on the road so the guys are excited about playing at home," Hammett said.

"We want to give a huge push towards making the playoffs this week before we hit the June break."

Head coach Aaron Mauger is also expected to return in time for the vital derby after being on bereavement leave.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes captain Brad Shields will bring up his 100th appearance when he takes the field, becoming the 14th Hurricanes player to do so.

Head coach Chris Boyd paid tribute to the 27-year-old flanker, urging his side to commemorate the occasion with a win. "There is no other player who is more respected in this squad and our club than Brad, and we are determined to put together a performance that recognises that on Friday," he said.

The Hurricanes make just one change to the team that lost to the Crusaders last week, stopping what would've been a franchise record 11 wins in a row.


Former Highlander Gareth Evans replaces Blade Thompson at No8, while Jordie Barrett continues out of position at centre despite struggling in Christchurch.

The teams

Highlanders: Ben Smith (co-c), Waisake Naholo, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Dillon Hunt, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Kalolo Tuiloma, Ash Dixon (co-c), Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli, Tyrel Lomax, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon, Josh Renton, Josh Ioane, Richard Buckman.
Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Gareth Evans, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields (c), Sam Lousi, Michael Fatialofa, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Toby Smith.
Reserves: James O'Reilly, Chris Eves, Ben May, Vaea Fifita/Murray Douglas, Blade Thomson, Finlay Christie, Ihaia West, Wes Goosen.