THE HIGHLANDERS will be without the injured Adam Thomson, John Hardie and Phil Burleigh for their clash against the Brumbies in Canberra tomorrow night.
Hardie has a foot niggle, Thomson a neck strain and Burleigh a leg complaint.
Those three injury-forced changes are among five alterations coach Jamie Joseph has made to his run-on XV for the match at Canberra Stadium.
England loose forward James Haskell replaces Thomson on the short side of the scrum and Doug Tietjens comes in for Hardie in what is a revamped back-row.
Shaun Treeby returns from the casualty ward to take Burleigh’s place in the midfield.
The other changes see Aaron Smith return at halfback ahead of All Black Jimmy Cowan and Culum Retallick replace workhorse Nick Crosswell at lock.
Elliot Dixon will provide loose forward cover on the bench.
The Dunedin-based franchise is aiming to win five games in a row for the first time in its history.
Highlanders: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Tamati Ellison, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear, Colin Slade, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, Doug Tietjens, James Haskell, Culum Retallick, Josh Bekhuis, Chris King, Andrew Hore, Jamie Mackintosh (c)
Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Bronson Murray, Nick Crosswell. Elliot Dixon, Jimmy Cowan, Chris Noakes, Buxton Popoali’i
There are plenty of mouth-watering clashes on offer this weekend.
Which player was unlucky to miss out on the All Blacks’ wider training squad?
Gordon Tietjens’ success in sevens is unrivalled and should place him in the same coaching league as Sir Alex Ferguson.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen named a 38-man training squad and there are a couple of oversights worth highlighting