Injuries have played a part in the Hurricanes making a host of changes for their Super Rugby Aotearoa match against the Highlanders on Sunday.

The absence of co-captain Dane Coles headlines five adjustments to the starting XV following their victory over the Chiefs. The All Blacks hooker drops out of the 23 with a calf niggle, making way for Asafo Aumua, who will start.

Calf injuries have been an ongoing problem for Coles, so much so he considered retiring at the start of last year. But Hurricanes coach Jason Holland has downplayed its severity as "nothing serious".

"When you hear that Colesy had a twinged calf it was a little bit niggly, but now we know all about it and he's running and he's doing everything anyway.

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"We're not stressed about it anymore."

Holland says regardless, they knew they need to rotate their hooking group during the current four-week block between byes.

Dane Coles is out for the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport
Dane Coles is out for the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport

Injuries have also seen loose forward Reed Prinsep (hamstring) and prop Fraser Armstrong (knee) plucked from the team, with Devan Flanders and Ben May coming into the starting lineup.

"We're hoping they're all just one week," Holland says.

"We've got guys who have been training hard and are all in really good nick, if someone's 80 per cent and someone's 100, we're going to get the guy out there who's 100 per cent."

In other changes, first-five Fletcher Smith gets the nod ahead of Jackson Garden-Bachop, who has started all three games in the competition.

Holland insists he is rotating the squad.

"With a lot of our selections we reckon that we're going to need 25, 26, 27 guys to win this championship. There's a little bit of rotation there, Jacko's done a pretty good job but Fletch is going to get an opportunity."

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Vince Aso returns to his familiar 13 jumper, while Billy Proctor maintains his spot on the bench. Peter Umaga-Jensen drops out of the 23.

The five new faces will be relied upon to help maintain a strong home record against the Highlanders, having not lost in the capital since the 2015 Super Rugby final.

Loose forward Murphy Taramai is set to make his franchise debut off the bench.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders have also made five changes to their starting side after their loss to the Crusaders.

There is a brand new front row with Ayden Johnstone, Ash Dixon and Siate Tokolahi returning in place of Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman and Jeff Thwaites.

Jack Whetton replaces the injured Josh Dickson at lock, and utility back Scott Gregory comes onto the wing for Ngane Punivai.

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Hurricanes

Jordie Barrett, Kobus van Wyk, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Devan Flanders, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Ben May

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Alex Fidow, Vaea Fifita, Murphy Taramai, Jamie Booth, Billy Proctor, Wes Goosen

Highlanders

Michael Collins, Scott Gregory, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Jack Whetton, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Jesse Parete, Kayne Hammington, Bryn Gatland, Teariki Ben-Nicholas

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