Joseph names inexperienced Highlanders lineup
As many as five Highlanders players could make their Super Rugby debuts against the Blues on Saturday night.
Bay of Plenty prop Kane Hames, Otago flanker Gareth Evans and Auckland centre Malakai Fekitoa will start a Super Rugby game for the first time at Dunedin Stadium in the season-opener, while Otago prop Craig Millar and Argentinian front rower Matias Diaz could make their debuts off the bench.
Nasi Manu returns from a pectoral injury, which saw him sit out the preseason, to co-captain the Highlanders along with All Black Ben Smith.
As well as those new to Super Rugby, Shane Christie, Patrick Osborne, Richard Buckman and Ged Robinson are set to make their first appearances for the Highlanders.
Elliot Dixon (hamstring) and Joe Wheeler (dislocated finger) were not available for selection.
HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith, Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, Shane Christie, Gareth Evans, Jarrad Hoeata, Brad Thorn, Chris King, Liam Coltman, Kane Hames. Reserves; Ged Robinson, Matias Diaz, Craig Millar, Josh Bekhuis, TJ Ioane, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Phil Burleigh.