All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will take a six-month break from rugby after New Zealand's end-of-year tour to Europe in a move designed to prolong his career to the 2015 World Cup.
Todd Blackadder, coach of McCaw's Super 15 team the Crusaders, told New Zealand media on Sunday the 31-year-old flanker will invoke a clause in his contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union that allows him to take a "sabbatical."
The decision means McCaw will miss a three-test series against France in June and the majority of the 2013 Super 15.
He is unlikely to be available for the Crusaders before July.
Blackadder told the Sunday Star-Times "it is definitely going to happen. Richie is going to take a sabbatical. He won't be available for the tests or Super rugby so he's going to get a good break."