McCaw's break 'could be challenging'
Psychologist warns of McCaw's sabbaticalTINA LAW
Richie McCaw could find it challenging to walk away from the All Blacks for six months, a Canterbury University sports psychologist says.
Lucy Johnston said taking a long break away from work could be difficult because the workplace was where many people felt their personal identity and esteem was realised.
''To walk away from that is a gamble. One must be confident that you can maintain your positive self-esteem and that you are good enough to come back into the team,'' she said.
McCaw has announced he will go on a six-month sabbatical after the All Blacks' tour to Britain at the end of the year.
Johnston said the opportunity for McCaw to give his body a break would be extremely restorative, but the break would come with challenges.
''Gone is the daily structure and routine of training and other responsibilities imposed by others and gone is the daily attention from the public and the media.''
She said McCaw would have to make sure he could cope with the possibility that he did not make the team at the end of his sabbatical and have alternatives just in case.
The All Blacks captain would know at the end of the six months how much he missed the team environment and how much he wanted to be part of it again.
Johnston said rugby teams were used to players missing games because of injury or international duty and then coming back, but six months was a long break.
''It will be tough, but McCaw has certainly not shied away from hard work in the past and will have received no guarantees of a test place on return.''
She questioned how long McCaw's body could sustain the workload of the Super 15 competition and the All Blacks.
''The sabbatical gives him a chance to extend his playing career.''
The All Blacks would continue without him because no player or captain was irreplaceable, she said.
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