Helping develop Fremantle's next generation of key forwards was a major factor in Matthew Pavlich's decision to play on for a 16th season.
The club yesterday announced its veteran captain had signed a new one-year deal, hot on the heels of midfield duo Nat Fyfe and David Mundy recommitting for another three years in the past fortnight.
Pavlich has booted 30 goals having played all but one game this year and will be a key to Fremantle's hopes of claiming a maiden premiership this season.
The Dockers have attempted and failed to lure a big forward from another club to replace Pavlich and would have been vulnerable if the 32-year-old had chosen not to play on in 2015.
First-year player Michael Apeness, 19, debuted in Darwin in Pavlich's absence last weekend, while Matt Taberner, 21, has been tried as another key forward option in the past two seasons.
Injury-plagued former Bomber Scott Gumbleton, 25, has played five games at Peel Thunder on return from a serious hamstring tear, but has gone goalless in his past two outings.
Pavlich said he felt a similar responsibility as Jonathan Brown had at Brisbane to stick around and help fill the breach.
"I'm playing a part with those guys, Michael Apeness and Matt Taberner and a few other younger players," he said.
"My role in all of that is important and I understand that.
"It's exciting for the club to see those guys out there."
Pavlich said the fact that his body was in good shape and the Dockers were going through a successful period had made the decision easier.
He said whether he retained the captaincy would be discussed at season's end.
The six-times All-Australian said the sudden mid-season retirements of contemporaries Brown and Darren Glass had reminded him of the commitment he was making to go on for another 12 months.
"I understand absolute, perfect exits from the game are few and far between," Pavlich said.
"I'm pragmatic enough to understand that that could very well happen."
Pavlich declared himself a certain starter for Sunday's clash with Greater Western Sydney, saying he was on the mend from the illness which kept him out of the 63-point win over Melbourne.
Michael Johnson (knee) and Alex Silvagni (ribs) will need to get through training this week to put their hand up for selection against the Giants.
Pavlich said having increasing competition for spots was a positive.
"Certainly if you asked the guys individually there would be that pressure on spots and I think that's pretty healthy for the group," he said.
"I understand absolute, perfect exits from the game are few and far between."" *Matthew Pavlich *