Ngatugnane Punivai is over his hamstring issue and takes his place on the right wing and Josh Ioane returns to the reserves.
Loosehead prop Aidan Ross, hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and tighthead prop Angus Ta’avao will pack down a powerful front row. All Blacks lock Tupou Vaa’i returns to start alongside Naitoa Ah Kuoi to complete the tight five.
Taranaki loose forward Mitchell Brown has been named to start at six in his 50th Chiefs game. Brown made his debut for the Chiefs in 2016 against Wales at FMG Stadium Waikato after being called in as a replacement player for the season. In 2017 Brown was named in the Chiefs squad for the first time.
With Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane side-lined with injury, McMillan has given the nod to rookie Kaylum Boshier to start in the number seven jersey. Boshier will be joined by Waikato’s Luke Jacobson who will once again start at number eight.
Chiefs co-captain Brad Weber will again combine with Kaleb Trask in the halves. Quinn Tupaea and Anton Lienert-Brown will light up the midfield, while electrifying wingers Etene Nanai-Seturo and Jonah Lowe return from injury to start respectively on the left and right wings. Fullback Damian McKenzie will complete the starting fifteen.
In the reserves, only one change has been made following the Gallagher Chiefs win over the Blues. Experienced utility back Shaun Stevenson joins the twenty-three after Chase Tiatia was ruled out due to illness.
Highlanders: 1. Ethan De Groot 2. Ash Dixon (cc) 3. Josh Hohneck 4. Bryn Evans 5. Paripari Parkinson 6. Shannon Frizell 7. James Lentjes 8. Kazuki Himeno 9. Aaron Smith (cc) 10. Mitch Hunt 11 Jona Nareki 12. Scott Gregory 13. Patelesio Tomkinson 14. Ngatungane Punivai 15. Connor Garden-Bachop
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman 17. Ayden Johnstone 18. Siate Tokolahi 19. Josh Dickson 20. Billy Harmon 21. Kayne Hammington 22. Josh Ioane 23. Hugh Renton
Chiefs: 1. Aidan Ross (39) 2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (40) 3. Angus Ta’avao (39) 4. Tupou Vaa’i (10) 5. Naitoa Ah Kuoi (16) 6. Mitchell Brown (49) 7. Kaylum Boshier (1) 8. Luke Jacobson (29) 9. Brad Weber (89) (c) 10. Kaleb Trask (11) 11. Etene Nanai-Seturo (17) 12. Quinn Tupaea (15) 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (85) 14. Jonah Lowe (2) 15. Damian McKenzie (87)
Reserves: 16. Bradley Slater (19) 17. Ollie Norris (7) 18. Joe Apikotoa (2) 19. Samipeni Finau (3) 20. Pita Gus Sowakula (29) 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (41 22. Alex Nankivell (34) 23. Shaun Stevenson (55)