Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has demanded his team keeps the foot on the throttle in their vital Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Christchurch on Friday.

The Crusaders - fifth overall, but only two points ahead of the seventh-placed Highlanders - were in top gear from start to finish in their 59-12 win over the Blues a fortnight ago, but have since had a week off with the bye.

"Obviously we would like to have kept that momentum, but the bye has given us the chance to recharge the batteries," Blackadder said after Crusaders' training on Wednesday.

"I felt that was a watershed moment, where we were mentally against the Blues, and we've just got to bring the same mindset once again on Friday.

"The guys have come back from the All Blacks camp full of energy and really focused, and I expect us to continue where we left off."

The Highlanders had outclassed the Crusaders in their recent outings, particularly in this year's round two 27-24 win as well as last year's 26-18 victory in Nelson.

"I think about our start to the campaign against the Highlanders and we just didn't turn up so we are looking forward to this one. And they beat us up at the breakdown last year and we weren't committed enough," Blackadder said.

"But that's in the past and we're really focused on what we want to achieve this week. We know where we are at and the importance of this game."

The Crusaders have made two changes to the team that routed the Blues: All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read, who has recovered from a badly bruised pelvic bone, resumes his normal position in place of captain Richie McCaw, who moves to the openside flank for Matt Todd. Ben Franks starts at tighthead prop ahead of brother Owen.

NZ Newswire

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