POWER forward Esava Ratugolea isn't looking past his first marking contest as he prepares to return in Geelong's JLT Community Series opener against West Coast on Friday.

Ratugolea, 20, admits he's carrying some nerves for the clash at Leederville Oval, his first outing at the top level since suffering a season-ending broken ankle while flying for a mark in round 10 last year.

While he managed two VFL matches late in the season, Ratugolea has been waiting for the moment to rise above a pack unencumbered.

"Going into the game I'll be thinking about it a lot," Ratugolea said of his first marking contest.

"When I do it, it'll be a bit of a relief. 

"I just can't wait to go there and attack the ball, it's just another way to build my confidence. (I'll) get this game out of the way and then feel good about myself up forward."

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Sent for post-season surgery in September to remove the screws from the initial mid-season procedure, Ratugolea had been on a modified program prior to Christmas.

He returned to full training in the new year and his only setback came earlier this month when he missed a handful of sessions building strength in his leg.  

"Not really (any problems) with the ankle, just a few niggles around it," he said.  

"I've just been doing a lot of extra stuff, jumping on that leg, landing on that leg and a lot of strength work around my calf and Achilles.

"I've put all my trust in the strength and conditioning coaches and it's done me well.  

"Landing on the leg sometimes I'll get a bit 'iffy' but I feel really good now and I don't think about it at all really."

Ratugolea burst on to the AFL scene as a strong-marking forward in eight matches in his second year on the Cats' list, and also spent time mixing in the ruck.

Now fully recovered from the broken ankle, Ratugolea is again set to spend time at the centre bounces against the Eagles in his modified time on ground.

While Ratugolea has been training predominantly as a forward this summer, he will look to assist Geelong's No.1 ruckman as a back-up option. 

Ratugolea remains eligible for the NAB Rising Star this season, starting the season under the age of 21 and with less than 10 games to his name.

With just six days between the Eagles clash and a meeting with Essendon at home (March 7), the Cats are expected to leave a number of veterans at home for the trip west.