Five Highlanders have been named in the All Blacks Rugby Championship squad, while several high-profile players have been left out.
It will clearly take a mighty effort from anyone wanting to prevent the Crusaders claiming their eighth title.
On the back foot throughout, somehow the Hurricanes have denied the Crusaders an unbeaten season and booked a favourable quarterfinal in Canberra next week.
Back from the bush and ready to rock tomorrow - that's the Crusaders after one of the more offbeat weeks in their history.
Dan Carter is back in his favoured first-five position for the Crusaders as they prepare to play the Blues in Christchurch on Saturday night.
All Black first five-eighths Dan Carter will make his first start of the Super 15 season after being named in the Crusaders lineup for Sunday morning's match against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder won't be making an official complaint about the farcical time-keeping at Dunedin's indoor stadium last night, but called the situation "unacceptable'' and "amateurish''.
Dan Carter aims to return to Super Rugby in the Crusaders' first match at the new Christchurch Stadium against the Cheetahs on March 24.
The inclusion of Zac Guildford on the reserves bench is the only change to the Crusaders as they prepare to play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday night.
Tomorrow marks an important milestone in the development of Christchurch Stadium with season tickets for all Super 15 Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby matches in 2012 going on sale to the public.
Napier, Nelson, or Timaru - Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder is philosophical about where his team plays its first home Super Rugby match.
Hopes that the Crusaders' temporary home ground would be ready for their first Super Rugby home match in March have been dashed.
Money over sentiment has prompted the Crusaders to play their first ''home'' game of the upcoming Super Rugby season at Napier instead of Nelson or Timaru.
A familiar feeling of dread gnawed at Israel Dagg as he enjoyed the last days of his summer break and contemplated returning to the Crusaders.
The Crusaders have named a powerful backline for their first pre-season match of the season, against the Highlanders in Greymouth on Friday.
Former All Black lock Tom Donnelly will play for the Crusaders next season as the Highlanders look to free up cash to sign some gamebreakers.