Retirement after World Cup possible - McCaw
Richie McCaw has indicated he will probably retire after next year's World Cup.
Although the All Blacks captain hasn't given deep thought to his future employment after his New Zealand Rugby Union contract expires late next year, he hinted retirement cannot be discounted.
If the flanker, who has earned 124 test caps, was selected for the World Cup in England and Wales it would be his fourth global tournament.
Despite his form and captaincy on last year's All Blacks tour being rated as strongly as ever, McCaw, who turns 35 on December 31 next year, warned there was no guarantee he would even be named in Steve Hansen's World Cup squad.
McCaw's lack of certainty contrasts with statements made by All Blacks team-mate Dan Carter, 31, who late last year said he hoped to keep playing after the World Cup.
"I would say it would be reasonably unlikely," McCaw said when asked if he would be playing in 2016.
"You never know but at the moment just to play next year is not a given any more. I haven't even considered beyond  but I would say it is unlikely."
Form and enjoyment, he said, would be paramount about what decision he makes.
Highlanders lock Brad Thorn, 39, has proved near indestructible during a professional career that began with the Brisbane Broncos rugby league club 20 years ago, but McCaw is unlikely to follow that path.
McCaw has always said playing overseas is unlikely.
"If you have had enough of being bashed up in training and all those things, going over there just to earn some money doesn't really appeal. I would say that is pretty unlikely, too, but, again, you never say never."
Providing his body stays together, McCaw, who made his first-class debut for Canterbury in 2000 and the Crusaders the following year, would command a massive salary in Japan or Europe.
When he took his sabbatical last year he resisted any advances to hook into a short-term offshore contract. Instead he skipped all rugby before making a couple of brief appearances for the Crusaders and returning to lead the All Blacks.
Although captain Kieran Read will miss Friday night's Super Rugby opener against the defending champion Chiefs in Christchurch, coach Todd Blackadder hasn't publicly confirmed who will lead the Crusaders.
Vice-captain Ryan Crotty led the side in two pre-season games against the Hurricanes and Highlanders.
McCaw, who led the franchise between 2005-2012, is an obvious option but Blackadder may prefer to persevere with Crotty.
McCaw's first appearance of the year was against the Hurricanes in Levin last Friday night when he replaced openside flanker Matt Todd. "I played seven until the last 10 minutes and then moved to six."
Tasman's Tevita Koloamatangi is set to start at No 7 for the Chiefs following injuries to Sam Cane and Tanerau Latimer. The Crusaders team will be named today.