For third time this playoffs, the Crusaders coaches have had to sit an incumbent All Black down and tell him he's not in the starting XV. Assistant coach Dave Hewett said breaking the news, in this case to Ben Franks, was not getting any easier.

"It's extremely difficult," Hewett said. "The only reason these guys are playing rugby is because they're competitive and want to get out there and have a crack at the opposition.

'When you don't get that it's disappointing. I know how he feels because I went through the same scenarios when I was playing, when we had Greg Feek, Greg Somerville, Con Barrell and myself.

"It's a difficult conversation, it's not fun to be on the receiving end of that conversation, but ... you have to select based on what you perceive as being the strength for this particular game.

"I have no doubt over the ability of Ben Franks. If Owen [Franks] or Wyatt [Crockett] gets injured he'll come on and we won't miss a beat."

Franks' extended spell on the bench is not so much a slight on him, but an indication of the form of Crockett. He looks a certainty to be picked in the All Blacks tomorrow, especially with Tony Woodcock's injury woes.

The last time they came to Suncorp, the Crusaders' scrum shoved the Reds around on their way to a heartbreaking loss. Hewett has warned the hosts that the set-piece has got even better since then.

"We've learned a little bit over the past month or so, particularly around what other teams are trying to do," he said. "It's not so much about trying to clean them off the park, it's managing the contest.

"The reality is, the Reds' scrum has got better too. Certainly last week they put some acid on the Blues and the Blues did not get the better of them. They deserve some respect and that's what they'll be getting from us."

Last week hooker Corey Flynn said the current front row was as good as any he had played with, including the days when Hewett and Somerville propped him up.

"To be completely honest, these guys are better," Hewett said. "They are more complete from a rugby-package point of view. The expectation is they've got to tackle more, they've got to carry the ball more.

"We were evolving towards that when I was playing, but we hadn't got to the stage these boys are at now."

The Crusaders came through yesterday's training unscathed. Hewett conceded it had taken the team longer to get their body clocks adjusted than it had when they went to South Africa last week, but the "positive banter" returned yesterday, a sign they were ready to go.

The Crusaders have bad memories of the ground, having lost 17-16 to a last-minute Quade Cooper penalty, with captain Richie McCaw's recollections particularly bitter.

He left the ground that day under a thundercloud, as it was he who was penalised for hands in the ruck with the game on the line.

The frustration might have disappeared, but the memory has not.

"It's disappointing, but you put that behind you because we have an opportunity to turn things around," McCaw said.

"Some of the things we did that night were pretty good, but we showed that when we make mistakes or allow the Reds to get the ball they wanted, they can be pretty dangerous. I know the guys are pretty motivated no matter which team we play, [but] perhaps there's a wee bit of an edge there because we were tipped up here a few weeks ago.

"But when it comes down to one game like this, it doesn't matter what's happened in the past."