As the Crusaders and Hurricanes prepare to battle for a spot in the Super Rugby final, squad consistency appears to have been a key word in both camps.

The Crusaders will run out in Christchurch on Saturday night with an unchanged 23 from the side who beat the highlanders in the quarterfinal, while the Hurricanes have made few changes to their starting squad from a week ago.

While Vaea Fifita has returned from suspension, he'll have to wait until the latter stages of the match to put his stamp on it, with coach John Plumtree option to keep the starting locking combination of James Blackwell and Isaia Walker-Leawere, while Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea and Gareth Evans maintain their spots in the second row.

The only change to the run on side sees Salesi Rayasi line up on the win in place of the injured Wes Goosen, while James Marshall returns on the bench from an elbow injury and Xavier Numia replaces Fraser Armstrong.

Advertisement

It's a familiar showdown between the two heavyweights of the New Zealand conference, who met at the same stage in last year's Super Rugby playoffs.

"We play each other a lot," Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said. "We know how good they can be on their day and the strength of some of their individual players that can open the game up and create a lot. They've won a lot of close games this year and that experience counts. It's going to be a hell of a match."

Speaking about the match ups on the field, Robertson was full of praise for Savea and what he had been able to achieve with the Hurricanes this season.

"The best player in Super Rugby, Ardie is. He's a power athlete, his ability to dig deep and you can see how many games he's won for them this year. His ability to make big plays at critical times is amazing. I'm a big fan of Ardie, he can play."

For the Crusaders, the breakdown will be a focus of their game after the Highlanders tested them in that area in their quarterfinal.

"The Highlanders were exceptional around the breakdown. They did some great work around checking us off the ball, slowing the ball up and turning the ball over. So that was a big focus for us.

"We've talked about it, looked at it from a technical point of view, you don't get to do too much from a physical point of view this time of year coming into finals. The games are hard enough, and doing it at training is even more physically taxing. But the breakdown's a focus."

Crusaders: David Havili, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Andrew Makalio, George Bower, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Jordan Taufua, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor.

Advertisement

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Gareth Evans, Ardie Savea, Reed Prinsep, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Toby Smith. Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia, Ben May, Kane Le'aupepe, Vaea Fifita, Richard Judd, James Marshall, Jonah Lowe.