The All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will take six months off from all forms of rugby at the end of this year.
McCaw will play at the All Blacks end of year tour but will then trigger the clause in his contract which allows for a six-month sabbatical and will be unavailable until June 2013.
The Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder confirmed that he had been in talks with McCaw's agents and the New Zealand Rugby Union about the sabbatical.
Blackadder says McCaw, now 31, needs to preserve his body if he is to continue playing towards goals such as the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Todd Blackadder says there isn't a specific date set for McCaw's return, just that he will be made available around June.