Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich will play on for a 16th AFL season in 2015 but it might not be as skipper.
Matthew Pavlich has decided against joining his AFL contemporaries Jonathan Brown and Darren Glass in retirement with his body remaining sound, but 2014 might spell the end of his time as Fremantle captain.
The 32-year-old six-time All-Australian, six-time best and fairest winner and veteran of a record 305 games with Fremantle felt his football mortality sharply when he saw West Coast rival Glass and Brisbane champion Brown retire earlier this season.
But Pavlich’s body is sound enough that he believes he can last at least until the end of 2015.
“They were sharp reminders of the commitment that I’m making for another 12 months at the end of this season,” he said.
“Playing against those two and coming into the system at the same time, it sort of made me consider where I was at and what my thought process was.
“And again, it sharpened my focus on that. They’ve decided to hang them up and I think, for different reasons, it was certainly appropriate for them. But I’m still committed and my mind and body are willing.”
Pavlich is Fremantle’s greatest player with 613 goals to his credit since debuting in 2000, but he could earn legendary status if he can lead the Dockers to a historic first premiership coming off last year’s grand final appearance.
Fremantle are on track for at least a top-four finish with Pavlich to return from a virus on Sunday against Greater Western Sydney at Patersons Stadium, but he sees merit in the prospect of handing on the captaincy at the end of 2014 – premiership or not.
David Mundy, Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow appear the most obvious candidates to take over.
“We have seen a huge amount of growth both within the leadership group and outside of that so, if the group and the club thought it was time and if it felt appropriate as well, absolutely I’m happy to do that,” Pavlich said.
“We review that at the end of every year and heading into every pre-season. I’ll obviously keep it for this point in time and we’ll discuss that come year’s end and into the pre-season.”
Pavlich is also keen to play to help in the development of Michael Apeness, Matt Taberner and Tanner Smith to eventually take over from him as key forward targets of note.
“I’m playing a part with those guys, Michael Apeness and Matt Taberner and a few other younger players, a couple that I’ve been playing with for a few years now,” Pavlich said.
“Helping them develop and my role in all of that is important and I understand that. It’s exciting for the club to see those guys out there – particularly Michael on the weekend on debut and playing in the manner that he did.”