Carter to take sabbatical
New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter will take a six-month sabbatical following the All Blacks' European tour in November.
The 31-year-old, who is contracted with New Zealand rugby until the end of 2015, will miss the majority of the next year's Super 15 season with the Crusaders as well as the June international series.
After 95 Tests and 11 Super Rugby campaigns, Carter said the extended break would allow him the chance to refresh and prepare his body for the 2015 World Cup in England.
"Ultimately, I want to play in the next Rugby World Cup in 2015. To do that, it's important that I put myself in the best possible position, both physically and mentally," said Carter, who could take his tally to 106 Tests by the end of this year.
"When you play the game full-time at this level it does take a toll on your body. I've had a few injury niggles over recent years, so I'm keen to ensure I do everything I can to recover fully from those and prolong my career."
While it is thought Carter could take the field for his Christchurch club, Southbridge, during his break, it will allow him to spend more time with his wife, Honor, and their four-month old son Marco.
Carter's sabbatical follows that of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who played his last Test against England in December.
This year McCaw missed the entire regular season of Super Rugby before making a series of cameos from the bench for the Crusaders in the knockout rounds.
A similar situation is expected with Carter and has prompted Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder to secure the services of first-five Colin Slade from the Highlanders to fill the void.
"Obviously Dan will be missed by the Crusaders, but we fully support him taking this break from rugby for the long-term benefit of his career," Blackadder said.
"It is a great opportunity for him to re-energise and also provides a great opportunity for some of our very talented, younger first-fives to step up to the plate next season.
"We wish Dan all the best and know he will enjoy the extra time with his young family."
From an All Blacks point of view, Aaron Cruden proved during this year's 3-0 clean sweep of France that he is more than capable of filling Carter's boots, with Beauden Barrett as his deputy.
"The extended break will allow Dan to do all the things he needs to do to give himself a chance to appear at the Rugby World Cup, and that's a huge positive for both us and him," New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said.