Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock has hailed the team's coaching staff for their careful management of their All Blacks throughout Super Rugby 2013.
Whitelock was in scintillating form against the Reds last weekend and he believes one reason for this is that the internationals are feeling fresh.
"This year we were expected to play well when we came back (from international duty)," he told sportal.co.nz about how head coach Todd Blackadder has carefully managed his players.
"The whole squad and management embraced that challenge and when the All Blacks came back they were on the bench or didn't play.
"Some guys like Luke Romano played three tests in a row and was pretty beaten up so Tom Donnelly stepped in and played awesome and kept the competition going for positions."
Many are labelling the Crusaders the form team in Super Rugby after impressive performances against the Chiefs and more recently the Reds. And Whitelock believes that fresh bodies have been key to their peak in form at the right time.
"We've been able to keep the bodies in shape and hopefully that's something we can keep doing - being smart rather than doing too much and being fresh when you go out there and not having heavy legs," he added.
On that 43-15 win over the Chiefs in regular-season, the All Black lock refused to tag the regular-season triumph as being a leg-up on the champions going into the semi-final.
"They'll be thinking the same. It doesn't matter what happened before or where you are on the table - you've just got to win this game," he added.