South Sydney Rabbitohs great John Sutton is retiring at the end of the NRL season.

Sutton, 34, is the Rabbitohs’ most-capped player with 329 appearances, having made his debut for the club in 2004.

A three-time George Piggins Medallist, awarded to the Rabbitohs’ best and fairest player every season, Sutton captained South Sydney to the NRL premiership in 2014.

“I absolutely love this club and everything it stands for. It’s stood by me for about 20 years and I know within myself that I have given everything possible to pay the club back over the years,” Sutton said in a statement on Wednesday.

“[This] will be my final year and I’ve been lucky enough to play alongside some wonderful players, be coached by some of the best coaches in the history of the game, and I’ve been able to represent the best club and its members in the world.

“We’ve made some great memories together here including the 2014 Grand Final win, the World Club Challenge win in 2015, and countless other times on the field in front of the members and sitting in the dressing rooms with my team-mates after a win.

“I want to thank all of the players, coaches, Richo [Shane Richardson], Blake [Solly] and the staff over the years who have helped me during my career. You all mean a lot to me. I want to thank the board and investors of the Rabbitohs for helping turn this club into what it deserves to be.

“I’m finishing up playing this year but it won’t be the end of my association with rugby league. I’ll be involved with the Rabbitohs and I’ll be helping this club stay at the top where it should be.

“We also haven’t finished the job this year yet. My full focus is on getting the best out of every player in our team and giving ourselves every opportunity to win the comp again this year, and it starts with the Bulldogs this Saturday.”

South Sydney are pushing to win another premiership this year, sitting fourth in the NRL ladder.

Sutton, who will stay with the Rabbitohs as a coach of their younger players, was also lauded by head coach Wayne Bennett.

“I didn’t know too much about John before I came to South Sydney last December but I soon worked out that he had the respect of every one of the players here,” he said.

“He has proven to be an excellent leader amongst this team, he’s been wonderful for me to help shape this team this year and it’s great to know that he will be part of the setup post his playing career.

“He has achieved things that not a lot of people get to experience in this game, including captaining a premiership team, so he should be very proud of what he has done for this club.”