Questions about McCaw's return after time away
"Already a legend, he deserves the opportunity to take a breather, restock and then decide if he has the drive to lead the ABs in London in 2015."Featured comment
All Black captain Richie McCaw's six-month break may save his body, but could it dull his winning "edge"?
His body might recover but how well he fits into the side when he returns is another story, Canterbury University sports pyschology professor Lucy Johnston says.
Fitting back in may prove difficult, though, because the team will carry on just fine without him.
"Other players will emerge as leaders to fill those big shoes, and other No 7s will get the opportunity to display their talents."
She says people who take such time off often worry about if the person filling in doing a better job, the team struggling in their absence or whether or not they will be missed.
"Taking a long break can be difficult both for the individual who is taking it and for those who are left behind.
"For McCaw, the opportunity for his body to have time out from the constant battering and pain will be extremely restorative, but with a break comes challenges.
"Gone is the daily structure and routine of training and other responsibilities imposed by others, and gone is the daily attention from the public and the media," Prof Johnston says.
So what will he do and how will he fill his time?
"What McCaw will certainly know at the end of six months is the extent to which he misses that team environment and wants to be part of it again.
"The sabbatical gives him a chance to extend his playing career. He might not come back as a No 7, but could make a switch to the slightly less demanding role of No 6.
"He might not come back as a starting player, but how useful will an enthusiastic and energised McCaw be to the All Blacks squad?"
Prof Johnston says it is important McCaw ends this year on a high, both at an individual level and in terms of leaving the team in good shape.
She says while questions have been raised about his motivation for taking a break, she is confident he has every intention of returning.