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All Black skipper McCaw set for 2013 break
17:43 AEST Sat Dec 29 2012

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is set to sit out the first half of next year to give his body a rest and extend his longevity in the game.

McCaw's contract with the NZRU, which runs through to the 2015 World Cup, has a six-month sabbatical clause.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says the union and McCaw's Super Rugby franchise, the Crusaders, have been in discussions with the loose forward over the past few weeks about exercising the option over the first part of 2013.

"We are still working through the detail of this, but we have already agreed that a decent break is in Richie's best interests," he said on Sunday.

Tew added that McCaw was unlikely to play any rugby until after the All Blacks' three-Test home series against France in June.

It was also possible that he would not be involved when the Super Rugby competition resumes after the June break, "but again we will be guided by what's best for him".

"Ultimately, we, and Richie, are keen to ensure we give him the best support to be able to continue performing at the highest level for as long as possible."

The 31-year-old McCaw is in Argentina for the All Blacks' upcoming Rugby Championship Test against the Pumas.

He is New Zealand's most capped player with 110 appearances in a 12-year Test career.

He made a late start to this season's Super Rugby competition after recovering from surgery for a troublesome foot injury that he played with during last year's World Cup.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen backs the move for McCaw to take up the sabbatical option.

"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," he told journalists in Auckland on Saturday.