The New Zealand Rugby Union has confirmed All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will be given a break from playing for the remainder of this month.
The flanker featured prominently in the All Blacks’ triumphant Tri Nations campaign and will not be released for provincial duty with Canterbury until October.
Other New Zealand squad members will be given staggered returns to domestic action, directly related to their workload over the 2006 international season.
Long-term injury victims Leon MacDonald, Chris Masoe and Reuben Thorne will wait to learn if they will play again this season.
However, Canterbury and Crusaders prop Greg Somerville will be out with a torn Achilles until at least March.
The All Blacks fly back to New Zealand on Sunday after their two-week tour of South Africa ended in defeat.