Tim Bateman will make his first start of the season replacing Ryan Crotty. Crotty left last week's game against the Hurricanes early with a concussion. Sam Whitelock, who also left the field early last week because of a concussion, has come through the week fine and is named to start and captain the side.
Mitchell Drummond will start in his 50th game, forcing Bryn Hall onto the bench.
Drummond plays his milestone game this weekend for the Crusaders after debuting against the Melbourne Rebels in 2014. The 24-year-old halfback said it only felt like yesterday when he arrived at the club for his first week.
"I debuted in Melbourne and I only played 90 seconds, I didn't touch the ball or make a tackle. I was a late replacement, so it was quite nice to get the first out the way like that. It's a funny one but one I will definitely remember," Drummond said.
Drummond also said when he first came to the club, Willi Heinz and Andrew Ellis were invaluable for him, and their influence put him in good stead.
The Crusaders come off a loss to the Hurricanes but vice-captain Matt Todd said his team is excited to be playing in the indoor stadium as it is perfect conditions for rugby.
Injuries continue to hurt the Crusaders leaving a huge contingent of their All Blacks out. Coach Scott Robertson said the New Zealand representative players are expected to return in mid-April, while Kieran Read will be out for a bit longer.
Robertson highlighted that the Highlanders speed and high tempo style of play create their ability to run teams off the park.
"It's a big derby match. They love their big brother up the road and there will certainly be no lack of motivation from them for us coming down. We know the context of the match, the zoo will be hissing, so we are excited," Robertson said.