Crusaders playmaker Dan Carter says the seven-time champions are confident they can still sneak into the Super Rugby play-offs, despite a difficult run-in.
Carter has never missed out on the play-offs in his long career but the Crusaders' record of making the knock-out stages every year since 2002 is under serious threat.
Having played their last game of the regular season at their traditional home in Christchurch, Todd Blackadder's men face a tough task on closing the gap on the top six.
Lying fourth in the New Zealand conference and eighth overall, three points behind the sixth-placed Highlanders, the Crusaders have zero margin for error as they travel to Sydney to face the Waratahs next week.
Trips to the defending champions as well as the Aussie conference-leading Brumbies interspersed with clashes against the pace-setting Hurricanes in Nelson and away to the resurgent Blues make for a difficult month ahead.
Last weekend's 58-17 demolition of the Reds was a step in the right direction, with Carter in top form.
"We've just got to go out there and win those and try to pick up bonus points where we can to stay in this playoff hunt," Carter told the NZ Herald.
"Anything can happen and we're still confident – we know that we've got the team to do it."
Carter has had to play second fiddle to in-form fly-half Colin Slade this season, but the pair combined brilliantly against the Reds as Carter put in his best performance of the season at inside centre.
"Obviously my preference is the No10 jersey but I just want to do what's best for the Crusaders and, at the moment, that's me playing 12," he explained.
"Sladey's playing extremely well, and I'm just happy to be playing. Whatever position that is doesn't really bother me."
"It feels like my form's been improving as the season's gone on," he added.
"And to have a performance like [Friday's] was really pleasing. Obviously we've got the bye this weekend just to rest a few bumps and bruises but I'm just really enjoying being out there and getting plenty of game time."