Crusaders fans won't see much of Richie McCaw next season; Stuff reports:
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is to take six months off rugby.
He will lead the All Blacks on this year's end-of-year tour to Europe, but will then trigger a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby Union contract.
The 31-year-old will sit out the three tests against France in June, and will not play for the Crusaders until July, in a bid to preserve his body through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
A frequent target for opposition cheap shots, McCaw will be the second All Black to take a sabbatical, after Dan Carter's ill-fated $1 million 2008 stint with French club Perpignan, where he snapped his Achilles tendon. Carter can also take another six-month sabbatical before the cup.
“It is definitely going to happen,” Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder told the Sunday Star-Times last night. “Richie is going to take a sabbatical. He will probably be available after June. He won't be available for the tests or Super Rugby, so he's going to get a good break. We've worked this through with all parties and I fully support it.
“He had it written into his contract and he's elected to take it. He's going to see the season out with the All Blacks, then have a break. It will freshen him up and he'll come back and be good for the next couple of years.”
A couple of years ago, we wouldn't have thought that there was any chance of Richie McCaw being able to make a fourth RWC tournament in 2015. He had a nagging foot injury which clearly hampered him during RWC 2011.
But this season he has been absolutely superb, culminating in a cracking match against South Africa last Saturday night in Dunedin. Six months right away from rugby next year might be just the caper for the most capped All Black of all time. McCaw has a life and interests away from rugby, and having an opportunity to pursue those without rugby commitments will do him the world of good. It will help to get rid of some of his niggles, but more importantly, it will freshen him mentally.
Richie McCaw is a special player; one of the best the New Zealand has ever produced. Special players deserve special treatment, and although McCaw's presence will be missed in the first half of 2013, the mere thought of him again leading New Zealand at the 2015 Rugby World Cup has a real appeal to it.