WEST Coast ruckman Scott Lycett has declared himself "ready to launch" into 2018 coming off a tough season ruined by shoulder issues.
Lycett shapes as a key player this season, particularly early, with star big man Nic Naitanui likely to need time to rediscover his best form coming back from 18 months on the sidelines.
In a positive sign, the 25-year-old competed strongly against All Australian Paddy Ryder in Sunday's JLT Community Series opener.
Having overcome frustrating battles with his body – including a PCL reconstruction at the end of 2016 - Lycett is feeling confident again and keen to make up for lost time.
"It was tough (last year), but I think I'm in a better place now for it," he said
"A lot of players go through injuries – they just probably don't have two reconstructions (PCL and shoulder) in a row – but I'm definitely in good stead for it now and after a full pre-season ready to launch into 2018.
"It's good to have general soreness after a game and not something specific.
"It's good to be back."
Lycett only managed one senior appearance last season, clearing the way for recruit Nathan Vardy to lead the ruck.
Both big men impressed against the Power – with Vardy booting two goals – and they could team up in round one if Naitanui isn't ready to return from his knee reconstruction.
But Lycett and Vardy have been pushing each other at training knowing there could only be one spot available as Naitanui's sidekick.
"No one really knows what's going to happen with Nic – I think he might play in JLT2 – but Vards and myself have been smashing each other in training all summer, so we're definitely both putting our hands up for that position," Lycett said.
"If Nic's not there then hopefully we can keep playing like we did yesterday together."
Naitanui took part in some match simulation work at Optus Stadium last Thursday, although the spring-heeled Eagle needs to showcase his prodigious leap before being considered to return.
Lycett has seen signs of Naitanui's best at training, but warned it would take time for the Eagles' most important player to rediscover top form.
"I played against him during the week in some match sim stuff and his touch was pretty good," he said.
"You could definitely see all the signs were there of the player that he was when he was at his best.
"I'm confident that he can get back to it. It might take a bit of time.
"I think people need to be patient, because people expect him to be at his best straight away because he is Nic Nat.
"But he is human and I think just like anyone it's going to take a bit of time to get confidence."
Naitanui had a light kick with Willie Rioli (knee) at Domain Stadium during Monday's recovery session, with both players a chance for the Eagles' second JLT clash on March 11.
Gun defender Jeremy McGovern wasn't sighted after copping a high bump from Power forward Robbie Gray but Lycett thought his teammate had pulled up "OK".
Brendon Ah Chee (rolled ankle) also didn't appear for the 30-minute session.