New Zealand captain Richie McCaw could return to playing earlier than expected for the Crusaders this season.
McCaw's sabbatical is set to expire at the end of June, leaving him potentially available to play in the final two regular-season matches against the Chiefs and Hurricanes in July - a possibility that he has not ruled out.
Having spent time travelling in the United States, Europe and Sri Lanka, McCaw underwent his first weights session last week and is set to gradually build his own fitness over the next couple of months.
'When I'm back playing is still in the air a bit. I'll get these next couple of months training [done], then it will come down to a discussion with Todd (Blackadder) and what's best for them and what's best for me. We'll make the decision going forward,'' said McCaw to The Dominion Post.
''If I get the next couple of months done right, hopefully we'll be in good shape to do what's needed.
'I've got a bit of time to get fit. Last week was about getting the dust off. Next week I'll ramp it up a bit. I want to make sure when I'm back playing, I'm in good shape.
''Going to places where nobody knows anything about rugby was really refreshing. It was great to just relax a bit and not worry too much."