Wellington - All Blacks centre Conrad Smith says the break he will take from Tests after this season's Rugby Championships will extend his international career by up to three years.
Smith on Tuesday announced his decision to follow senior All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in taking a "sabbatical" in the hope of prolonging his career at least until the 2015 World Cup.
He joined calls for rugby to implement a global season with fewer international matches. The 31-year-old veteran of 66 Tests said the current 10-month season of around 30 matches should be reduced to 20 matches with a four-month off-season.
He said "I feel like I'm happy to play for two or three (more) years or whatever it is but not with the schedule as it currently is."