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Richie McCaw's break driven by fear of losing desire

Published: 4:00PM Monday September 24, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw says a fear of losing the desire to pull on the black jersey is the reason behind his decision to take a six month break from the game at the end of the year.

Speaking for the first time about his choice to take up the sabbatical clause in his contract, McCaw says the break will reinvigorate his body and mind as he seeks to prolong his 110 Test career.

"I knew if I just carried on relentlessly for the next couple of years without having a break then I would get to the point more mentally than anything that I'd had enough and I didn't want that to be the case and I thought that I've got this opportunity I'd take it so however long I've got left is good quality and I could enjoy it," McCaw explained to ONE Sport in Argentina today.

The rigours of Test football and the fact that McCaw takes the field each week with a large target on his back have combined to take a toll on the veteran openside flanker.

At 31-years-old, McCaw says he hopes the shock decision to take a break from the game will ensure he returns primed mentally and physically to continue his career at the highest level.

"It's when you lose that desire to get yourself over that, ready for the next week, that's when you start to have had enough and just to have a break here and there will remind you just how fun it is to pull on the jersey because I still absolutely love it."

McCaw's teammates are the ones who will miss his presence the most although they are the first to concede their fearless leader has done more than enough to warrant a well deserved break and his decision has the full backing of the All Blacks.

"If someone deserves it, it is Richie," said young five-eighth Aaron Cruden.

"He definitely throws his body on the line week in week out."

Aaron Smith, another relative Test newcomer and McCaw's room mate in Buenos Aires, says he is relishing the chance to learn from his skipper while he has the opportunity although he is careful of the moments he chooses to pick his brain.

"I don't know but when you are in the same room you want your own time and that but if his head is in a book I'm not going to say 'put it down and talk to me.'"

With the All Blacks and New Zealand public coming to terms with the realisation they will be without McCaw for the early stages of 2013's Test campaign, the decision of who to appoint as skipper for next year's series against France is the next hot topic.

McCaw's Canterbury, Crusaders and looseforward ally and friend, Kieran Read is the man most are picking to fill the post.