All Blacks and Crusaders captain Richie McCaw will miss most of next year's Super Rugby tournament if not all of it as well as the All Blacks June tests as he will take a six month sabbatical next year.
The New Zealand Rugby Union included a clause in his contract which allows him to take a break from rugby in New Zealand but this break will be made in order to prolong his career to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has revealed that the 31-year-old flanker will miss a three-test series against France in June and the majority of the 2013 Super 15 Rugby tournament.
He is unlikely to be available for the Crusaders before July and All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read will take over the Crusaders captaincy.
Blackadder told the Sunday Star-Times "it is definitely going to happen. Richie is going to take a sabbatical."
"He will probably be available after June. "
"He won't be available for the tests or Super Rugby, so he's going to get a good break. "
"It's a huge commitment to do both these days," Blackaddder said.
"We've worked this through with all parties and I fully support it."
"He had it written into his contract and he's elected to take it. He's going to see the season out with the All Blacks, then have a break."
"It will freshen him up and he'll come back and be good for the next couple of years."
"Super Rugby is now an eight-month programme. It's a lot bigger than it used to be. The succession plan is (Kieran) Reado. He did a fantastic job this year."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has also given his blessing to McCaw.
"Richie is smart enough to know what his body needs," Hansen told Fairfax as the All Blacks left for Argentina.
"He's got a sabbatical in his contract, so it's up to him use it. If we want to get him through to the world cup, it's a good idea."
"The Super 15 is a tough competition. For someone like Richie to step out of that, he obviously thinks it's pertinent, hence why it's in his contract."