Wellington - All Blacks centre Conrad Smith said on Tuesday he would sit out New Zealand's European tour in November, instead taking a long break aimed at extending his career through to the next Rugby World Cup.
The 31-year-old said the New Zealand Rugby Union was keen for him to participate in the All Blacks' World Cup defence in England in 2015 but he felt the goal could only be achieved if he eased back on international commitments.
"I feel like I'm happy to play for (another) two or three years or whatever but not with the schedule as it currently is," he told reporters at the end of a training camp ahead of next month's Test series against France.
"I felt I needed probably a longer break and not to be playing 10 months of every year."
The decision means the 66-Test veteran will miss the All Blacks' Tests against France, England and Ireland in November.
He will be available for the upcoming home series against France, which begins on June 8, and the Rugby Championship, which runs from August to October.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he was comfortable with Smith's decision.
"It's something he feels he needs and we can only support that," Hansen said. "I'd rather he went on a sabbatical than retired."