JONATHON Ceglar is eyeing a return in Hawthorn's final NAB Challenge hit-out in a bid to stamp himself as a certain starter for round one.
Ceglar was kept out of the 71-point loss to Richmond on Saturday by a minor finger complaint, but the big man is confident he will be fit for the Hawks' March 12 assignment against North Melbourne.
"That (injury) probably pushed me back one week, but the finger is fine now and I’m hopefully going to be right for the final game,” Ceglar told the club's website.
"Now I’m back into full training - I’ve got two weeks until NAB Challenge game three - so it’s about getting two really solid weeks of training in.
"You’re always a little bit rusty for your first game, so it’s about trying to eliminate that a little bit by getting in as much quality training as I can."
Ceglar is the natural successor to retired triple-premiership ruckman David Hale and is determined to be part of Hawthorn's push for four-straight flags after missing out on the past two premierships.
The 204cm big man is building his way back towards peak form after an injury-interrupted summer, having also overcome wrist surgery at the end of last season.
"It’s been challenging, but it’s been a successful pre-season," Ceglar said.
"I had a wrist operation at the end of the year, so that put me back a little bit, but I’ve been able to run for the whole pre-season, which has been good.
"It’s just been a little bit of footy stuff that I’ve missed, being in a cast and a brace.
"Post-Christmas I probably ramped up the footy side of things, and the last two weeks I’ve been able to be fully training."
Recruit Jack Fitzpatrick has filled the back-up role behind Ben McEvoy in the Hawks' opening two NAB Challenge matches, however Ceglar is almost certain to line-up in the round one blockbuster against Geelong on Easter Monday if fit.
But the 24-year-old – who has played 29 games and booted 14 goals over the past two years - continues to work on his forward craft in an attempt to cement his spot in the side.
"I’m just mixing it up," Ceglar said.
"Everyone in this side’s got to be able to play more than one position, so having that flexibility is key."