Co-captain Dixon starts for Highlanders
Co-captain Ash Dixon will take the place of hooker Liam Coltman who has been unwell this week; while tighthead prop Siate Tokolahi returns to the front row.
Josh Dickson will make his first appearance for the season in the middle row and Tom Franklin, who has started all four previous matches, moves to the bench.
In the backs, Matt Faddes will partner Rob Thompson in the midfield. On the bench young Otago midfielder, Patelesio Tomkinson makes the 23 for the first time and Greg Pleasants-Tate also makes his way into the reserves.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Patelsio Tomkinson.
Date: Friday, March 30
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)