All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith is reportedly exercising a sabbatical clause to take a break from All Blacks duty.
The 31-year-old Highlanders fullback re-signed with the All Blacks in Feburary until 2020.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Smith will trigger a sabbatical option in his contract to sit out eight late-2017 Tests after the second Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia on August 26.
Smith would be following former team mates Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Conrad Smith in taking advantage of his sabbatical clause and skip the four rugby Championships tests along with the All Blacks end-of-year northern Tour.
Smith has struggled with injuries in 2017, including concussion, and was recently diagnosed with an inner ear infection.