Super Rugby preview: Who will triumph as Chiefs, Canes battle for home quarter-final spot?

All five New Zealand teams battle it out this weekend as they look to better their positions on the ladder with next week's quarter-finals looming, 1 NEWS NOW's rugby expert Campbell Burnes breaks down this weekend's action.

Chiefs v Hurricanes: Hurricanes by 9

All the cards seem to be in the Hurricanes' favour as they seek to solidify fourth position and thus a home quarter-final.

They have selected close to their best starting XV, with eight internationals among them, and have no intention of allowing the Chiefs to swap with them on the table. Furthermore, they are back in winning ways after a dip in form.

The Chiefs have had to rest Damian McKenzie, and are also missing Sam Cane. Brodie Retallick is back but the Hurricanes have more lineout options. Strangely, Liam Messam is benched for his final Chiefs home game and the bustling BOP No 8 Jesse Parete is promoted.

Highlanders v Rebels: Highlanders by 13

I'm no oracle, as these 2018 predictions might suggest, but I will guarantee that the Highlanders will not again lose 45-22, as they have done in their last two outings.

All things being equal, they should beat the Melbourne Rebels, who are missing Dane Haylett-Perry and perhaps bruising skipper and lock Adam Coleman.

And yet the desperate Rebels know an historic first playoffs berth is tantalisingly within their reach.

In their favour is the fact the home side have chosen to rest Ben and Aaron Smith, Rob Thompson and Luke Whitelock, removing in one fell swoop much of the backline stability. Over to the Highlanders pack to do the job and lock in sixth position, meaning a quarter-final trip to BA, Joburg or Sydney.

Crusaders lock Scott Barrett celebrates his try with teammate Kieran Read. Crusaders v Highlanders. Super Rugby, round 19, Wyatt Crockett Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, 6th July 2018. Photo Copyright: Craig Morrison / www.photosport.nz
Crusaders lock Scott Barrett celebrates his try with teammate Kieran Read. Source: Photosport

Crusaders v Blues: Crusaders by 21

There is nothing at all riding on this game other than the historical rivalry between these two franchises. Is it too much to expect the Blues to rise to the occasion, beat the Crusaders in Christchurch and send Jerome Kaino off to France in fitting style? Probably.

The Crusaders have rung the changes, resting Scott Barrett and David Havili, among others, but there is no evidence the depleted Blues will suddenly find their rhythm. Chalk this up as 13+ to the home side.

Hurricanes' Nehe Milner-Skudder runs with the ball during the Hurricanes vs Chiefs Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday the 9th of June 2017. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Nehe Milner-Skudder Source: Photosport