Crusaders boss Hamish Riach has revealed that the New Zealand Rugby Union have compensated the Super Rugby franchise for the loss of Richie McCaw but has remained silent about whether he will return to Super Rugby this season.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) allowed McCaw to take a six-month sabbatical from rugby to extend his career and due to the holiday he has not played for the Crusaders this season.
There was talk that McCaw would return to the Crusaders after the June break but that now appears to be in doubt as he has said he would not want to push any other players out of the team if they had been there all season.
However injuries could change things and if the Crusaders need McCaw and are pushing for the play offs a return could be on the cards mid-July
"I'm not aware of the definitive answer around Richie and maybe the coaches are having conversations where player availability is addressed," Riach told Fairfax.
McCaw sabbatical ends after June so he could return for the Crusaders final push for the play offs in particular thier matches against the Chiefs and Hurricanes - and the finals if they qualify.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said earlier in the season that he would McCaw decide whether he wants to play for the franchise again this year.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said that he would be happier if McCaw played for his Christchurch club ahead of the opening Rugby Championship test against the Wallabies in Sydney on August 17 rather than taking the risk of being injured in Super Rugby.
It is certain that McCaw will not play in next month's three-test series against France.
Another Crusader/All Black Dan Carter has a sabbatical in his NZRU contract and he could miss next year's Super Rugby season if he activates the clause.