NZ teams gear up for Super Rugby finals

The Hurricanes and Chiefs will meet for the third time this season as they kick off the Super Rugby play-offs with a grudge match in Wellington tonight.

It's one win each so far for both teams, but more importantly the Chiefs beat the Hurricanes last weekend without a number of their stars and playing much of the second half with only 14 men.

In fact the red card and subsequent suspension of back Jonathan Fa'auli left a bit of bitterness between the two sides.

Back at home in Wellington for the quarter-final, the Hurricanes are determined to redeem themselves as well as send their five departing players, and coach Chris Boyd, off in style.

One of those departing, Julian Savea, admits tonight's match holds a lot of sentiment.

"It's been a big part of my life this club and very special to my heart.

"I've given everything to them and they've given so much back to me so I'm pretty stoked and honoured to represent this club and this is probably the one jersey I'll miss the most," Savea said.

The Hurricanes have only won one of their last five matches and have been accused of losing their touch.

Coach Chris Boyd rejected that earlier this week and Chiefs assistant coach Tabai Matson agrees with his opposite.

Matson believes the Hurricanes are keeping their cards close to the chest for the finals but he says the Chiefs are doing the same.

"I think the battlefield will come down to a couple of things and we're really happy that we got those right last Friday so we'll be looking to start with that level of intensity.

"Wellington is a different ground but we're pretty confident with our prep. We know they're going to bring some stuff we haven't seen yet but we're going to bring some stuff they haven't seen as well," Matson said.

With the Chiefs welcoming back four All Blacks for the match, tonight promises to be the game of the weekend with both teams capable of tearing each other's defence apart.

Speaking of defence, the Crusaders have the luxury of a home quarter-final against a well traveled Sharks side - the two teams haven't played each other in over two years.

The defending champions are short odds favourites to not only win on Saturday, but the competition as a whole.

However captain Sam Whitelock knows all too well the perils of getting ahead of yourself.

"We know that it's do or die so we're just focussing on this week.

"If we were looking anywhere else we'd get ourselves into trouble so the boys are doing some really good work and have done a lot so far this week to allow us to go out there and play well," Whitelock said.

Following the Crusaders match, the Highlanders take on the New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney.

The Highlanders are used to traveling in the playoffs now, they've done it for the past three seasons, including their championship win in 2015.

During those playoffs the Highlanders beat the Waratahs 35-17 in Sydney, so the southerners are confident they can repeat history.

Halfback Aaron Smith said he prefers finals rugby as it provides that extra element of do or die.

"You actually play a bit better when you know there could be no game next week.

"You go out there a bit freer and you know that the little moments like covering the kick or stopping an offload or diving on the ball could be the big key moment in the game.

"I think the pressure of playing away from home is quite good as well, we try to embrace that," Smith said.

In the fourth quarter final, last year's runners up - the Lions host the Jaguares in Johannesburg.