RICHIE McCaw is hoping six months away from rugby will give him the chance to be the first captain to win two consecutive Rugby World Cups.
The 31-year-old has activated a clause in his contract allowing him to take a six-month sabbatical.
Following talks with the NZRU, All Blacks and Crusaders management, he will start his break after the end-of-year tour to Europe, missing most of the following Super Rugby season and three home tests against France in June.
Dan Carter used a similar clause to play for six month in France in 2008, although he spent most of it on the couch with injury.
McCaw, who has 110 caps, intends to use the break to refresh mentally and physically.
“I’m pretty keen to play as long as I can especially for the All Blacks, and in New Zealand; the break will hopefully allow me to play a bit longer,” he told Fairfax NZ.
“Part of it is physical, but it’s also mental. Over the years I’ve never really had more than a couple of months off unless it’s been injury-related so to be able to take a break, reassess and then play whatever time I’ve got left is a good opportunity.”
He discussed his Super Rugby workload with Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder earlier in the season, and they agree a break until the end of June would be a way of enhancing his longevity.
“I just think this is the right time. Toddy and I sat down and tried to map out how the next few years would look.”
He was still passionate about the game, and leading the All Blacks, but said he was wary of his high standards slipping as he got older.
“The big thing I want to make sure is there is not a perception I’m just hanging in there and just being around for the sake of it. I still want to do it right and having that break is going to hopefully invigorate the next couple of years,” he explained.
Kieran Read will become Crusaders captain, while McCaw expected the No 8 to also take up the role of All Blacks’ captain.