They are really strong values we like to live by
All Black legend Dan Carter says 'living like a Crusader' is what sets the seven-time champions apart from their Super Rugby rivals.
Speaking to this website, in an exclusive interview ahead of their play-off match with the Bulls in Christchurch on Saturday, the 30-year-old said not much has changed in the core values that drove the team to unprecedented success in one of the most demanding competitions in the world.
The dictionary may provide a unadorned definition of the word crusader: 'One who is intensely or excessively devoted to a cause.'
For the men from Christchurch there is a much deeper meaning to being a member of this world class outfit.
"It is a combination [of things]," Carter said, when asked what makes this Crusaders team different.
"I don't think a lot has changed [over the years]," he told this website, adding: "We still have a huge focus on being a family and living like a Crusader.
"They are really strong values we like to live by and it has really been on show this year.
"There is great self believe within this side.
"It has been a bit up-and-down this year, but there is a strong self-believe that we can win this competition," he said of the team's 2012 campaign - that saw them lose two of their first three matches and then stumble another three times along the way.
Probably the biggest upset was their 19-28 loss to the rebels in Week 12, but there is another blemish on their record they want to remedy - a 30-32 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria back in April.
This time round they will have at least one crucial advantage over their rivals - being at home.
Carter said Saturday's encounter with the Bulls is very similar to last year, when they faced another South African outfit in the first round of play-off matches.
"We had a home quarterfinal, up in Nelson, and we won [36-6] against the Sharks," Carter said, adding: "Then we had to travel to Cape Town [where they beat the Stormers 29-10 in the semifinal] and Brisbane [where they lost 13-18 to the Reds in the Final]."
The irony is that the Crusaders, if they win on Saturday - and the Reds knock over the Sharks in Brisbane - will again head to Cape Town for a showdown with the Stormers and maybe even return to Brisbane for a rerun of the 2011 Final.
But, as Carter said, that is out of their control and their focus is on this week.
"It is great to play the Bulls at home, because in the last few years we had to play them a few times over there [in Pretoria and Soweto in the play-offs], so it is good to play them at home.
"If we win, it looks like we still have to travel one way or another [to Cape Town or to Hamilton to face the Chiefs] so it is just one of those things we have to deal with."
Carter, a true superstar and regarded as the best flyhalf in the world, has many records behind his name - including a new international point-scoring record set during the World Cup on home soil last year.
He became the most capped All Black No.10 this year.
The highest point scorer in Super Rugby history, Carter has made a successful recovery from a groin injury that ended his World Cup campaign and he showed his versatility in appearing at inside centre for the Crusaders in the early rounds of the Super Rugby competition this year, before resuming kicking duties at flyhalf.
He has 87 Test caps, having made his debut against Wales in June 2003, and is on 95 Super Rugby caps - having made his first Crusaders appearance back in 2003 as well.
By Jan de Koning