The Blues and All Black hooker Keven Mealamu will extend his leave period for several weeks, and start his Super Rugby season in March.
The 102-test veteran, who has just returned home from the All Blacks end of year tour, plans to take a well-deserved rest after a big 2012 season.
This extended leave means Mealamu will miss the first three matches of the Blues' season and will return to the fray on March 18th after the Blues' bye and before they play the Waratahs in Sydney.
Mealamu has chosen to exercise one of several options negotiated in his latest NZRU contract which runs through to the end of 2013.
Mealamu says he asked Blues coach, Sir John Kirwan, not to appoint him as captain for the Blues in 2013 recognising that he and the team will want the skipper to lead from the start of the season.
Kirwan says he's supportive of Mealamu's desire to keep playing at the top level for as long as possible.