I'm pretty keen to play as long as I can especially for the All Blacks
Richie McCaw's six-month break next year is intended to extend his All Black career as far as possible, and perhaps even to the next World Cup.
The 110 Test veteran is set to take a sabbatical from competitive rugby at the start of next year which will rule him out of Super Rugby and the June internationals in a bid to manage his physical and mental worload in the long-term.
The 31-year-old World Cup-winning captain has underlined his value to the All Blacks this year by turning in a series of committed performances, playing a key role in their unbeaten streak in the Rugby Championship.
McCaw explained that given the overloaded schedule, the break will be essential if he is to avoid burning out.
"A lot of guys look at the calendar now and depending on where you are in your career think how you're going to deal with it. There's a lot of rugby these days.
"From my point of view I knew if I carried on relentlessly for the next couple of years without having this break then I'd probably get to the point where mentally, more than anything, you've just had enough. I didn't want that to be the case," he told Fairfax Media.
After doing some planning with Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder, McCaw is confident that the break will help him to maintain the intensity required to keep his place in the All Black side, as with a number of quality openside flanks coming through in New Zealand he is likely to be under significant pressure in the coming years.
"I just think this is the right time. Toddy and I sat down and tried to map out how the next few years would look."
"The big thing I want to make sure is there is not a perception I'm just hanging in there and just being around for the sake of it. I still want to do it right and having that break is going to hopefully invigorate the next couple of years," he explained.
McCaw believes that taking 'long leave' next year will enable him to stretch his All Black career out as far as possible and increase his chances of leading them to another World Cup in 2015.
"I'm pretty keen to play as long as I can especially for the All Blacks, and in New Zealand; the break will hopefully allow me to play a bit longer.
"Part of it is physical, but it's also mental. Over the years I've never really had more than a couple of months off unless it's been injury-related so to be able to take a break, reassess and then play whatever time I've got left is a good opportunity," he said.