Veteran forward Nick Riewoldt has confirmed 2016 will be his last AFL season as captain of St Kilda.
Riewoldt is the Saints’ longest-serving skipper, having led the club on 220 occasions since 2005.
The 33-year-old this year became the fifth man to captain a club more than 200 times, also becoming just the fifth Saint to play 300 games.
Riewoldt was expected to step down as skipper and made a formal announcement on Thursday night at the club’s best-and-fairest function.
“In the interest of the footy club, it’s the right time for me to step aside to give a new player the opportunity to lead,” Riewoldt said.
“It has been my absolute privilege and honour to captain St Kilda for the past 11 years.
“I’ve experienced a great deal in my tenure as captain and I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve as a group.”
Saints coach Alan Richardson thanked six-time club best-and-fairest winner Riewoldt for his “unparalleled commitment, service and contribution to the club”.
“Nick has led our proud club with distinction during some very successful years in St Kilda’s history and also, more recently, at a time of rebuilding and development,” Richardson said.
“Whether he’s captain or not, Nick will always be a significant leader for our footy club and someone who will drive standards and set an outstanding example for our younger players.
“It will be incredibly beneficial for the next captain to have Nick there to support them if need be, as his wealth of experience and knowledge in this space is so impressive.”
Riewoldt signed a one-year deal in June, extending his career to a 17th season.
David Armitage, Jarryn Geary, Maverick Weller and Jack Steven are among the contenders who have been floated as Riewoldt’s likely successor.
“St Kilda will undertake a thorough process during the pre-season to appoint its 2017 leadership group, from which the captain will be nominated,” the Saints said in a statement.