MATTHEW Pavlich has stood down as Fremantle captain after nine seasons at the helm.
The Dockers' games record-holder made a late decision last year to play on into a 17th AFL season but speculation had mounted as to whether or not he would captain the side in 2016.
Pavlich told the playing group on Wednesday that the time had come for a new leader to take over.
"First and foremost, it's the right time for the football club - the right time for me to step aside and allow a new player or players the opportunity to lead," Pavlich told the club's website.
"I have absolutely loved the honour and privilege of captaining Fremantle for the past nine years. Leading the boys out onto the field was always a highlight of my week.
"After considering my playing future last year and the ever increasing responsibilities I have as a father, finalising my university studies and my role as president of the AFL Players' Association, it is just the right time for both the club and myself.
"As an AFL player you must commit entirely to the cause and that's magnified even further as a captain. Both mentally and physically it takes it's toll and, given where my body is at, I also need to be focused on getting the best out of myself to ensure that my on field play continues to benefit the team."
Pavlich has led the Dockers for 189 of his 335 games. Only five players, Stephen Kernahan (226 with Carlton), Dick Reynolds (224 with Essendon), Ted Whitten (212 with Footscray), Michael Voss (210 with the Brisbane Lions) and Nick Riewoldt (199 with St Kilda) have captained their side to more games in VFL/AFL history.
He said he was incredibly proud of what he had achieved as Fremantle skipper.
"I've always really enjoyed the constant challenge of setting high standards on and off the field - both for the players at Fremantle and to the community," Pavlich said.
"It was a responsibility I unashamedly took incredibly seriously.
"Being a part of a driven leadership group during the past four years of the team playing consistent finals football and leading the club in its first Grand Final are certainly highlights.
"I've acquired a lifetime of knowledge in the role and, in particular, want to thank Chris Bond and Ross Lyon for the assistance and guidance throughout my journey as captain and also my fellow leadership group members who have been a great support to me along the way."
The Dockers will vote on a new captain in the coming weeks. Coach Ross Lyon flagged midfielders David Mundy and Nat Fyfe as the most likely candidates to take over from Pavlich prior to Christmas.
Pavlich, Mundy, Fyfe, Aaron Sandilands, Lee Spurr and Luke McPharlin were the members of the Dockers' leadership group in 2015 and the players will vote on a new leadership group in 2016 when they vote on the captaincy.
Pavlich said he would be happy to remain in the leadership group despite stepping down as skipper.
"If the group sees it fit that there is a role for me, I'd love to assist in the transition phase to a new captain," Pavlich said.
"I would be willing to fulfil that role and do whatever was best for this playing group."