The captain of the Kiwis rugby league team, Simon Mannering, is stepping down from his role as captain of the New Zealand Warriors.
After six seasons at the helm of the National Rugby League side, the 29-year-old Mannering is being replaced by the 32-year-old Australian import, Ryan Hoffman.
Mannering, who's led the Warriors a record 136 times in his 236-game career, said he was giving up the captaincy to fully focus on his contribution as a player.
"While it has been a massive honour being captain, I wasn't enjoying my football and felt the responsibilities of the captaincy were a big factor in that," he said.
"I told Cappy (head coach Andrew McFadden) and (managing director) Jim (Doyle) that I thought it would be best for me and therefore best for the team if I was able to focus solely on my job as a player.
"They asked me to reconsider but my mind was made up and, to be honest, it's a relief. It has taken a big weight off me."
First appointed for the 2010 NRL campaign, Mannering will captain the Warriors for the last time on Saturday in his home town of Nelson, for the team's second and final trial against St George Illawarra before the season starts on March the 5th.
"Our preference was for Simon to continue as our captain again this season," said McFadden.
"This is all about Simon, though. We totally respect this decision. After playing 236 games for the club, being our captain for six seasons and our player of the year four times, he has earned the right to make this call."
McFadden confirmed Hoffman, the club's most experienced player with 263 NRL appearances, as the new captain.
"He is an obvious replacement for Simon, a natural leader who brings all the qualities we want, one who plays for 80 minutes, is durable and has a fiercely competitive attitude," he said.
"He has the respect and support of the players."
Hoffman, who joined the Vodafone Warriors from Melbourne last season, said being made the club's captain was one the biggest highlights of his career.
"It's a huge honour and I'm totally humbled to be offered the job," he said.
"It's a brave decision Simon has made. He's a terrific leader and player and I know he'll still be there as usual doing everything he can to help the team."
McFadden encouraged the public to give Mannering a memorable homecoming when he leads the Vodafone Warriors for the last time on Saturday.
"He's a great player and a great leader, the ultimate case of a captain who leads by example," he said.
"We're looking forward to the people from the Nelson region giving one of their favourite sons a really special welcome. He certainly deserves it."