New Zealand Rugby
Richie McCaw inspired Dan Carter's break
August 9, 2013
New Zealand's Dan Carter takes on the Scotland defence, Scotland v New Zealand, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, November 11, 2012
Dan Carter wants to wear the All Blacks jumper for more than one more year © Getty Images

The spring in Richie McCaw's step in July convinced Dan Carter about the value of a break from rugby. Hence, one All Blacks great will follow in the footsteps of another when Carter takes his sixth-month leave from November.

Like McCaw, Carter will miss the bulk of the Crusaders' Super Rugby season and the three June Tests. He will even follow the All Blacks skipper in turning 32 while away, the age at which the mental preparation for rugby's heavy workload matches the physical challenge.

Carter admired McCaw's renewed zest when the back-rower returned to Crusaders training and then in making two appearances off the reserve bench, including the semi-final loss to the Chiefs. And McCaw, now, is set to captain the All Blacks in his 117th Test when they kick off The Rugby Championship in the Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on August 17, despite having little rugby under his belt.

"Just seeing the way he's really refreshed, mentally he's as excited as he's ever been," Carter said. "From my perspective, his break has been a success. There's going to be a lot of similarities between his break and my break in terms of getting away from the game."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says McCaw and Carter have given themselves the best chance of extending their decorated careers.

"Whereas we might only get one more [season] if we weren't flexible enough to give an extended break," Hansen said. "The risk we run if we don't look after our athletes is that they do break down or they get sick of it, get frustrated and go overseas. A hungry Dan Carter has got to be a real positive for us."

Hansen maintains the "sabbaticals" should continue to be rare and available only to long-serving players, such as McCaw, Carter and Conrad Smith, the Hurricanes and All Blacks centre unavailable for the November tour to Japan and Europe.


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