Crusaders Halfback Andy Ellis says that Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Hurricanes is a "massive game" for the Crusaders' Super Rugby title hopes.
Ellis has also predicted that the team that settles back into Super Rugby after the June break will win this year's Super Rugby title.
The Crusaders held a team meeting on Monday and Captain Richie McCaw's mood and message quickly got the team refocused on Super Rugby.
"Richie, being Richie, said how excited he is about being back here and involved and I think all the other boys are feeling pretty much the same," Ellis told Fairfax NZ News.
"It's nice to play the tests but the challenge we've got ahead of us is pretty exciting and it's not hard to get everyone motivated."
Ellis noted that the Crusaders had some massive games ahead with matches against Hurricanes and the Chiefs who lead the Super Rugby standings.
"We've got to hit the ground running, there's no building into it, " said Ellis.
"Three games to the playoffs and we've got to win all of them to put us in a good position to win this thing."
The Crusaders are always somewhere around in the finals stages and have won seven titles but the last time they won a title was four years ago in 2008.
Ellis said that the challenge now will be to reintegrate the All Blacks who played against Ireland and "how the team picks up and kicks off again".
"That will be the difference between the team that wins it to the teams that fall away, how well [test players] are integrated back in and how excited they are about playing."
Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn who missed the series against Ireland to rehabilitate from a rib injury said that the Crusaders may have an advantage over the Hurricanes as their returning All Blacks will be "very match fit".
"I think we'll be better off than most, we've had about 10 guys involved in the All Blacks so they've been at a huge intensity and we've tried to carry that on here too with the intensity side of it so we wouldn't be too far behind the guys who are coming back."
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder says he believes his team will hit the ground running.
"If we get our hunger back this week, then I don't expect us to take a step back."
Blackadder said the Crusaders challenge was to "do our basics really well" rather than race in and "try and start as we finished off four weeks ago".
"If we do that, we'll put ourselves under pressure.
"The next three weeks will determine the outcome of where teams sit ... I back our side. "
"I just think we've got a lot of experience, we've got too much to play for and we're at home."