Jarryd Roughead admits the burden has been lifted off his broad shoulders since abruptly stepping down from the Hawthorn captaincy.
The 32-year-old initially filled the breach of long-time leader Luke Hodge at the end of the 2016 season.
In November, Roughead also crushed speculation he would retire after a lean year by his standards – 34 goals in 22 games – to serve out the final season of his contract.
“That is obviously the reason why I stepped down as captain to focus again on my own game,” Roughead said.
“I also have a daughter, who is one next week, and she takes up a fair bit of my priorities at the moment.
“So just to release a bit of pressure, the footy club can help out. I have been in the leadership group role for 10 or 12 years, so to take a backward step is not that bad.”
Roughead was left unsure when his replacement will be named little more than three weeks from Hawthorn’s preseason opener in Brisbane.
But among the looming candidates are vice-captains Liam Shiels and Issac Smith.
“We have probably got five or six blokes that could fill a void, but to name one would probably be unfair to the other blokes who are vying for the captaincy,” he said.
Returning for a Hawks’ preseason camp, Roughead wants to redress their once flawless Launceston record.
They have suffered two losses and a draw in eight games since St Kilda spoiled a 19-game winning run.
“I think it’s a matter of not coming down here and not taking it for granted,” he said.
“We’ve got a great winning record down here, but we have to make the most of it.”