The All Blacks lock and world rugby player of the year Brodie Retallick will be out for up to six weeks with a shoulder injury suffered in the Chiefs' Super Rugby win over the Crusaders in Hamilton last week.
Retallick suffered an injury to his AC joint in the 40-16 win.
Assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge says while the swelling has gone down, Retallick will be out for three to six weeks and the time out will count as part of his stand down time the All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had sought for all his players in the leadup to this year's World Cup.
Retallick will be replaced in the starting lineup by Michael Fitzgerald for the Highlanders game.
Johan Bardoul will start in the loose forwards with Liam Messam bracketed with Maama Vaipulu at No.8, while Messam awaits concussion clearance.
The Super Rugby centurion Hosea Gear comes back into the side on the right wing.
Michael Allardice and Japanese captain Michael Leitch will get the chance to make their Super Rugby debuts off the bench. Andrew Horrell will also get his first match of the season.