New Zealand Rugby
McCaw set for All Black sabbatical
ESPN Staff
September 22, 2012
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw lifts the Webb Ellis Cup, New Zealand victory parade, Rugby World Cup, Auckland, New Zealand, October 24, 2011
Richie McCaw is hopeful of being part of the All Blacks team that defends the World Cup in 2015 © Getty Images
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New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has given his blessing for World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw to step down from competitive rugby for up six months in a bid to be available for New Zealand's defence of the Webb Ellis Cup in 2015.

McCaw has signed a contract with the All Blacks through till 2015 and the New Zealand Rugby Union has included a six-month sabbatical clause. They previously included a similar clause in the contract Dan Carter signed after the 2007 World Cup and he later signed for six months with Perpignan, though problems with his Achilles meant that he was limited to five matches.

In the past McCaw has played down interest in playing away from New Zealand, which means he may miss part or all of a future Crusaders Super Rugby season. Either way Hansen feels a break is crucial to his hopes of being part of the team in 2015.

"If we want to get him through to the next World Cup, then it would be a good idea if he uses it at some point," Hansen told "But nothing has been finalised that I'm aware of at this point. At the end of the day, Richie is a smart enough man to know what his body needs."

McCaw missed the start of the Super Rugby season with a foot injury, but has featured in all seven All Blacks' Test matches this year.

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