ANDREW Swallow will continue as North Melbourne captain in 2016 despite recent speculation the Roos were poised to replace him with vice-captain Jack Ziebell.
North coach Brad Scott announced on Wednesday that Swallow would continue as skipper for a fifth season this year, while Ziebell will become the club's sole vice-captain after sharing the role with veteran spearhead Drew Petrie for the past four seasons.
Shaun Higgins will also come into the Roos' leadership group in 2016, joining existing members Swallow, Ziebell, Jamie Macmillan and Scott Thompson.
Petrie and fellow veteran Nick Dal Santo exit the club's official leadership team but will have mentoring roles this year – Petrie with the Roos' young forwards and Dal Santo with a group of about 10 players identified as emerging leaders – while midfielder Sam Gibson is the other omission.
Swallow has captained North since 2012, but the Roos considered making a change this season, embarking on an extensive off-season process that saw the players complete lengthy questionnaires on the captaincy and leadership group candidates.
Scott said the players had the greatest say in the appointment of the club's leaders, with the decision to re-appoint Swallow ultimately clear-cut.
"The players have probably been the loudest voice in this and in the end it was fairly clear, but that doesn't mean it was easy," Scott said.
"While we know Jack has got terrific leadership qualities, this process meant that Andrew was a fairly clear standout for us."
Scott told AFL.com.au two weeks ago the club was committed to blooding a new captain while Swallow, who turns 29 in June, was still playing.
Swallow said on Wednesday he had been keen to continue as captain but supported the club's proposed succession plan.
"I spoke to Brad in the off-season and we had a good chat about what my plans were and what I wanted to do and I said to him, 'I'd love to go on one more (year), but at the end of the day the club's bigger than me whatever you feel like and, more importantly, whatever the players think (I'll do)'," Swallow said.
"Boomer (Brent Harvey) handed [the captaincy] over while he was still playing and that's my intention, so I just had to leave it up to the powers above."
Asked whether his comments indicated he intended to hand over the captaincy at the end of 2016, Swallow was non-committal.
"We'll wait and see at the end of the year. I don't think you want to go into a season thinking it's definitely going to be the last, but the way Jack's developed, especially over the last 12 months, has been outstanding," Swallow said.
"And Jamie Macmillan and Shaun Higgins have been terrific so we've got a lot of good guys who are waiting in the wings."
Swallow has led North in 80 games since taking over from previous captain Brent Harvey.
Only Wayne Carey (184 games), Wayne Schimmelbusch (150) and Adam Simpson (110) have captained the Roos more often.