A return to full fitness and the prospect of a six-month break has All Blacks captain Richie McCaw confident he can play at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
McCaw admits he had doubts about his ability to return to help New Zealand defend the title in the weeks following New Zealand's triumph in the World Cup final last year.
He had hobbled through the tournament on an injured foot and said he felt mentally drained.
The injury cleared this year and the 116-Test flanker returned to his best on the field.
A six month "sabbatical" which will see him miss the 2013 Super Rugby championship and the June Test series against France would prime him further.
He said he felt more confident now about extending his career well beyond his current 116 caps and contesting a fourth World Cup.
"Probably 12 months ago if you'd asked me that, I would have been pretty hesitant," McCaw told Radio Sport.
"Having gone through this year and with a break coming, I'm a lot more excited and positive that it's a possibility.
"There's always a lot of water to flow under the bridge before then ... but if I'm still performing like I am this year come the end of next year, I don't see why not and I'd be excited to have a crack."
McCaw will spend the first month of his extended break in New Zealand, celebrating his 32nd birthday on New Year's Eve, before travelling overseas.
He has indicated he will spend time in the United States, where he is likely to visit New York and spend time gliding in Nevada.
"If I had gone back straight back in for this year coming, I would have struggled," he said.
"It'll be pretty refreshing to do a few things I haven't done for a while.
"I'm pretty sure when it's time to get into next year ... I think I'll be pretty excited about getting going again."