New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has revealed that he is ready to return from his sabbatical by playing for his Christchurch club within "three or four weeks".
The 32-year-old openside flanker has not played this year after triggering a sabbatical clause in his contract which has given his body a break in the hope of extending his career until the 2015 World Cup.
McCaw said his plan was to play for his club early next month and for the Crusaders if they are involved in the latter stages of the Super Rugby competition.
''That's the plan (to play for Christchurch) but how many of them (games) I'm still not sure," he told Fairfax Media.
"I want to get through some training and depending on how the Crusaders go ... I want to start playing after I have done 11 or 12 weeks of pre-season and after that I will be ready to play.''
The time-frame to represent the Crusaders is tight.
They have just three matches, against the Highlanders, Chiefs and Hurricanes, in the regular season remaining. The first match will be in Dunedin on June 29.
If they qualify for the play-offs, which begin on July 19, McCaw could potentially be recruited to either start or sit on the bench.
He is eager to be fully match-fit before the All Blacks' Rugby Championship opener against Australia in Sydney on August 17.
Whether he would be comfortable to return straight into the Crusaders run-on side, and replacing Matt Todd, is something that would also need to be resolved.
''The first thing I have got to worry about it being ready to play - if needed," added McCaw.
"I would never go and play if I was 'almost'. I have got to be right.
''And it has to be right for the Crusaders too. Matt has done a pretty good job.
"Say, there were injuries if there was a need (for him to play) ... They have always said, if you are available and ready to go we will look at it.
''But if I am not needed, that is fine too.''
McCaw said the decision about whether he will play for the Crusaders will involve himself and coach Todd Blackadder.
''I have already had a discussion with Todd and told him the plan and he has brought into it," he revealed.
"He just said 'yep'. When they get back together (after the June tests) I will probably do a bit of training with them and see if I am up to speed with everything and get some rugby contact.
''Then we will make a decision.''