VETERAN Brendon Goddard has chosen not to be part of Essendon's leadership group this season despite being voted in by his peers.
Orazio Fantasia and David Myers have joined captain Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett, Cale Hooker, Joe Daniher and Michael Hurley in the seven-man group.
Jobe Watson was the other change after he retired at the end of last season.
Goddard, 32, has lined up in 312 games since he was drafted at No.1 in 2002 and finished second in last year's best and fairest behind Daniher.
Heppell told reporters in Tullamarine on Saturday Goddard would still be a huge presence.
"We discussed it a couple of weeks ago and he announced that he would love to do that. That's a very selfless act in itself. (It) showed great leadership from 'BJ' (Goddard), allowing someone else to come in," Heppell said.
"Raz (Fantasia), a younger guy, will bring a different look to the group and obviously nothing will change with BJ, we all know what he's like. If he's got an opinion to raise, he'll certainly do it.
"We all love him around here."
Coach John Worsfold told essendonfc.com.au Goddard's decision to step aside was an example of leadership, to allow younger players to have more influence.
"As a team we are committed to taking our game to the next level through hard work and continuous improvement," Worsfold said.
"It's wonderful to see Dyson voted back in as captain and his leadership style clearly resonates with his teammates.
"Dyson consistently displays care for his teammates, leads by example and is extremely driven to see this group achieve the success they are striving for.
"Orazio and David's elevation is a vote of confidence in their leadership qualities, while Brendon's decision to step aside and provide a teammate with the opportunity to step up is a wonderful example of leadership.
"The leadership group will continue to drive our elite standards and core values to ensure we are ruthless and competitive in every aspect of our preparation and performance."
Heppell, who was named skipper for the second straight season, will be without the guidance of Watson and is expected to exert his influence on the group more.
"It was really important for me to still have Jobe around last year, being able to bounce things off and lean on him a fair bit. Now I can take the reins a fair bit more," Heppell said.
Essendon's leadership group for 2018. Picture: AFL Photos