AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 14: All Black Captain Richie McCaw poses with the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year award during the 2012 Steinlager Rugby Awards at SkyCity Convention Centre on December 14, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

Wellington – Talismanic All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has been named New Zealand's Player of the Year for the fourth time.

At an awards ceremony on Friday night, McCaw beat Kieran Read and Conrad Smith for the top accolade which he previously won in 2003, 2006 and 2009.

Flyhalf Dan Carter was earlier in the month named the IRB's international player of the year ahead of McCaw but failed to make the list of finalists for the New Zealand award.

McCaw, who played in 13 of the All Blacks 14 Tests this year, is now taking an extended break from rugby and will sit out next year's Super 15 championship and the June Tests against France.

The 31-year-old openside flanker and three-times IRB player of the year has enacted a sabbatical clause in his contract in the hope it will help extend his playing days through to the next World Cup in 2015. – Sapa-AFP