The Chiefs will likely be without captain Sam Cane when they host the Crusaders on Saturday.

Cane missed the team's last four matches - against the Jaguares, Sharks, Stormers and Waratahs - due to an abdominal strain.

Coach Colin Cooper said the loose forward was unlikely to take to the pitch on Saturday night against the conference leaders.

"He hasn't been training with us," Cooper said.

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Cooper highlighted the importance set pieces would have in Saturday's match, and lock Michael Allardice welcomed the challenge.

Michael Allardice collects a line out throw against the Stormers. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Allardice collects a line out throw against the Stormers. Photo / Getty Images

Allardice has been in good form since returning from injury, running in the second row alongside Brodie Retallick. The 26-year-old noted how important the match was this weekend in the context of their season, knowing the job at hand would be a tough one.

"Obviously we get points if we win and take them away from the Crusaders getting those points, so that's massive for us in the grand scheme of the season and how the draw seems to work.

"New Zealand derbies are always tough whether they're at the start of the season trying to get the ball rolling or if they're later of the season and they become so much more crucial."

The Chiefs put on a valiant effort against the Crusaders when the sides met in Christchurch early in the year, with late tries flattering the Cantabrians in the 45-23 win.

Now, 14 weeks on, the Crusaders look set to wrap up the New Zealand conference and the top spot on the overall ladder, while the Chiefs are fighting to secure their spot in the playoffs. Eight points behind the Hurricanes who were fourth overall, a home quarterfinal looked unlikely for the Hamilton side at this point – though not out of the question.

The playoffs bracket is set up so the top seed plays the eighth, second plays seventh, third plays sixth and fourth plays fifth. The Chiefs, currently in fifth, would face the Hurricanes in Wellington if the season ended today.