All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will take six months off rugby at the end of this year.
McCaw, 31, will play in the All Blacks end of year tour but will then trigger the clause in his contract that allows for a six month sabbatical and will be unavailable until June 2013.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has confirmed he's been in talks with McCaw's agents and the New Zealand Rugby Union about the sabbatical.
Blackadder says the captain needs to preserve his body if he is to continue playing towards goals such as the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
"As you get to the stage where he's at, you know you're slowly running out of time, and I think he really wants to get himself in the best mental and physical shape."
Blackadder says there is no specific date for McCaw's return, other than that he will be available around June next year.