Keven Mealamu won't be seen in Super Rugby until late March, and has relinquished the Blues' captaincy.

The All Blacks hooker will take up an option to have several weeks extra leave at the start of the season, and will play his first game against the Waratahs in round five.

His manager Tim Castle says it's been a very trying 2012.

"It's been an enormous year and this is a slightly refined version of a sabbatical to enable Keven to just to step back from the intensity of the game mentally and freshen up."


Mealamu has asked coach Sir John Kirwan not to consider him as captain, as the leader should be with the side from the start of the season.

Castle says being the man he is, Mealamu will hardly be lying around on the couch.

"He will of course be doing all of that - the physical training regime that they do naturally, but he'll do that away from the day to day, hour by hour Blues programme intensity."

He says Mealamu will continue to train and do promotional work, but wants to have more time with his young family.

"He commits to all of those things which are expected of him but what he will do is continue just to stay away with family, enjoy family time away from the intensity of the training regime."

Mealamu says the captain should be with the side from the start of the season.