Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod says All Blacks fullback Ben Smith is making a smart decision by taking time away from the game.
Smith, who'll play for the Highlanders in Saturday's Super Rugby quarter-final against the Crusaders in Christchurch, will trigger a sabbatical option following the All Blacks' second Bledisloe Cup test against Australia next month.
The sabbatical clause allows him to miss the eight remaining tests this year.
The 31-year-old has struggled with injuries in 2017, including concussion and an ear infection, and had his head bandaged at training yesterday.
Scott McLeod said Smith needs to take a break.
"I think its a good decision for him given what he's been through this year. It's shown in the past that it can be beneficial for the athelete and the team.
"It's new ground and its a special ground for some players but if it values the player and our game and our teams then its good."