All Black centre Conrad Smith will miss his country's end of year tour after deciding to take a break from rugby.
Smith has invoked a clause in his contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union which allows him to take a "sabbatical", a move that Dan Carter and Richie McCaw have made in the past, with McCaw currently not involved in any rugby.
The 31-year-old's future has been the subject of much discussion, having already suffered two concussions this season. He has now confirmed that while he will be available for France's tour of New Zealand in June, he will not run out for the All Blacks when they tour Europe and the United Kingdom in November. Smith plans to return to action for the Hurricanes sometime during next year's Super Rugby campaign.
"Going to take a bit of a break, mainly to prolong my own career...," Smith told ONE News.
"When I sat down with the NZRU, they were keen for me to hang around for a bt longer.
"So to get two or three years out of me and even looking to the next World Cup, I felt I needed probably a longer break and not to be playing ten months of every year.
"I could go one or two years and maybe that would be it but if I had longer breaks, and I think most guys would say the same, then you can see yourself playing maybe three more years," he added.
While sad not to have the services of Smith available to him for the entire year, All Black coach Steve Hansen believes that the player is making the right decision.
"I'd rather he went on a sabbatical than retire," said Hansen.
"There's still a lot of rugby left in him, it's just an indicator that players need to step out, get that decent break, get their bodies right."
Smith confirmed on Tuesday that he will turn out for the 'Canes on Friday after a spell on the sidelines due to a concussion.