Fear of missing a place in the Super Rugby play-offs for the first time in 11 years has fired up the Crusaders ahead of their clash with competition leaders the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday night.

The Chiefs, 24-19 winners when the two teams met in Napier in March, have cemented top spot in the New Zealand Conference spot.

However, the Crusaders, reeling from a 23-22 loss to the Hurricanes last Saturday, are fifth on the log and face dropping out of the top six if they lose at Waikato Stadium.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder says the return of All Blacks Israel Dagg, Dan Carter and Kieran Read from injury has helped to fuel the desire within the squad to give everything for the cause.

"The guys are pretty fired up," he said on Wednesday.

"They were really disappointed with last weekend."

Blackadder said the players' motivation meant the coaching staff hadn't had to do much this week apart from select the side and be clear about the game plan.

The naming of the team was delayed until after the final training in Christchurch to ensure Dagg, Carter and Read emerged unscathed.

Their inclusion means the seven-time champions will have 12 All Blacks in their starting line-up, including an entire pack with Test experience.

"We're pleased we've got a good line-up for a big game," Blackadder said.

"We're playing the best team in the competition and they deserve the right to say they're No.1."

He said the fixture came at a good time.

It was straight after a loss and it gave his team the chance to show they were better than the performance they put out against the Hurricanes.

"We're disappointed we didn't nail it as we had every opportunity," he said.

"But it's been one of those seasons where we haven't nailed those moments, so this is a good test for us and we've got to bring our A game against the Chiefs."

NZ Newswire

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