Christchurch - All Blacks Dan Carter, Kieran Reed and Israel Dagg have all been recalled to the Crusaders team for this week's Super Rugby showdown with the Chiefs in Hamilton.
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The seven-time champions lost to the Hurricanes last week and defeat to the championship-leading Chiefs in their penultimate match on Friday would almost certainly leave them without a place in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Carter was recalled at flyhalf after recovering from a hamstring injury to take back the kicking duties after replacement back Tyler Bleyendaal missed what would have been a match-winning penalty from halfway last Saturday.
No 8 Reed, who has been in storming form for the Crusaders and New Zealand this year, has been cleared to play after a concussion, allowing Richie McCaw to return to his favoured position on the openside flank.
Dagg missed last week's match with an ankle injury but will bring his attacking flair back to the team at fullback for the match against the Chiefs, who would wrap up the New Zealand Conference title with victory this weekend.
"We really missed that experience last weekend," Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder told local media.
"When you look at the way they had been performing before injury, they were absolutely on fire. It's great to have them back."Teams:
15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Substitutes: 16 Hikawera Elliott, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Romana Graham, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia MasagaCrusaders:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Owen Franks
Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Sean Maitland