THE INJURY-HIT Highlanders have received a boost, with former All Blacks lock Jarrad Hoeata to start against the Melbourne Rebels in Invercargill tomorrow night.
Hoeata will lock the scrum with Josh Bekhuis in what will be his first Super Rugby appearance this season after battling back from a chest injury.
Adam Thomson is also back and will wear the No 7 jersey after missing last weekend's 33-26 loss to the Brumbies.
In other changes, Jason Rutledge replaces the injured Andrew Hore (calf) at hooker and Chris Noakes takes over from first five Colin Slade, who is sidelined for the next 12 months with a broken leg.
Highlanders: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Tamati Ellison, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear, Chris Noakes, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, James Haskell, Adam Thomson, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Bekhuis, Chris King, Jason Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh (c)
Reserves: Brayden Mitchell, Ma'afu Fia, Culum Retallick, Doug Tietjens, Jimmy Cowan, Phil Burleigh, Buxton Popoali'i
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.