Richie McCaw is an outside chance to make his comeback against the Waratahs but not in the No7 jersey.
Caution will remain paramount as the Crusaders monitor McCaw's recovery from foot surgery, yet coach Todd Blackadder hasn't discounted a place on the bench for the All Blacks captain in Sydney on Sunday.
McCaw has not played since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup at Eden Park on October 23 and has emphasised he will not return unless confident his foot has healed.
Blackadder is also circumspect about the risks of returning the flanker too early and will discuss the options with him before naming the team on Thursday.
"He could be [ready to play] – I'm not really sure. He will be definitely there for the Reds the following weekend and could be back for the Waratahs," Blackadder said.
It is not as if McCaw will feel under a load of pressure to make himself available.
The Crusaders have displayed some ominous form in beating the Hurricanes and the Stormers in recent weeks and his replacement, Matt Todd, has been in the groove.
McCaw's foot problems began when he suffered a stress facture in early 2011 and continued to be dogged by pain and swelling through to the final week of the World Cup.
After the tournament, he required a bone graft and the removal of the large screw from the metatarsal bone and recently had an operation to remove two small screws.
He joined the squad at training only when they returned from South Africa a fortnight ago, but has looked comfortable when running under the guidance of physiotherapist John Roche. There is little likelihood of Blackadder tossing McCaw into the run-on side in Sydney.
"The only reason we would start him is if we have injuries to our loose forwards, otherwise it would be really nice to start him off the bench."
While there is no urgency for Blackadder to rush him back, he will be aware McCaw will be eager to log some match-play before the All Blacks' first test against Ireland at Eden Park on June 9.
The Crusaders have just five matches remaining before the Super competition breaks for the international window in June.
Although mindful of the need to keep All Blacks forwards Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock and halfback Andy Ellis fresh, Blackadder is reluctant to wrap them up in cotton wool when they are performing so well.
"I think while the guys are running hot, we will keep them going. I will look to give `Reado' a break when I can and another guy who has put in some massive shifts has been Sam Whitelock too."
No8 Read may be rested for the Reds match if McCaw starts.
Meanwhile, reserve hooker Quentin MacDonald will be out for several weeks after injuring his shoulder against the Hurricanes.
Ben Funnell will back up Corey Flynn.