Crusaders target home advantage in play-offs with win at Hurricanes
Last Updated: 14/07/17 12:40pm
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson says his players know the significance of Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Hurricanes, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 8.30am.
The Crusaders lead the overall standings on 63 points and can guarantee home advantage throughout the playoffs with an away win over the Hurricanes, but they are also unbeaten in Super Rugby this season with a 14-0 record.
The 2002 Crusaders side is the only side to have gone through the season unbeaten, winning all 11 round-robin games, then their semi-final and the final to clinch a fourth title.
Sky Live: Hurricanes v Crusaders
Six All Blacks return for Hurricanes as they target trip to Australia in quarter-finals
"It's pretty obvious, we've got a chance to do something special," said Robertson.
"We know how important it is to finish one in the conference and on the overall table with the way everyone is travelling.
"The boys are pretty clear, we don't have to get round and hold hands and chat about that. They know. They're big boys."
Despite the significance of the match, Robertson has opted to rest his All Blacks front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks after a brutal series against the British and Irish Lions.
"It is a welfare thing," said Robertson. "No-one can go 10 games in a row. The guys are holding different niggles and we have three more big games after this.
"We were guided a lot by the All Blacks and what they thought, and obviously the tough Tests they played."
Robertson was, however, still able to call on five other international forwards to start the match, including All Blacks captain Kieran Read, and had faith that his pack would be able to attack the Hurricanes in the set piece and at the breakdown.
"We have got a strong set piece and we trust all our squad," Robertson said of a pack that still includes New Zealand prop Wyatt Crockett, locks Scott Barrett and Luke Romano and loose forwards Matt Todd and Read.
The Hurricanes currently sit fifth in the standings on 54 points and a win will mean they travel to Canberra to face the Brumbies in the quarter-finals.
If they were to lose and the Chiefs beat the Brumbies earlier on Saturday, they will head to South Africa to face the Stormers.
Hurricanes captain TJ Perenara said upending the Crusaders' pursuit for perfection was not a factor in their thinking.
"We want to beat them," the scrum-half said, "and it's not just because they haven't lost a game.
"It's because it puts us in a better position in terms of travel for our quarter-final, so we go out there and expect to play well and win games.
"That's our focus."