AFTER heavy scrutiny around his play on the field last season and his contract status off it, Gold Coast young gun Jack Lukosius is more comfortable in 2020, and it's showing.
After being taken with the second pick in the 2018 National Draft behind Carlton's Sam Walsh, the South Australian played 21 games in his debut season.
He started as a forward, spent time on a wing and ended up in Gold Coast's backline at the tail-end of the season.
However, most of the interest around the South Australian centred on whether he would commit to the Suns long-term.
In November he did, extending his deal until the end of 2022.
With 12 months under his belt in a new state and a handful of games in his new defensive role, the 19-year-old started the year with a clear head.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
And now he's flourishing.
Lukosius is averaging 15 disposals a game, but it's the damage he does with them that's so eye-catching.
He is racking up a team-leading 379 metres gained each match – 13th in the AFL – with a kicking efficiency in excess of 70 per cent.
"I feel like I belong now and I'm a part of it," Lukosius said.
"It definitely took time.
"Last year I wanted to play every game, but I was overthinking everything, which is probably normal for a young player.
"I wouldn't change anything from last year – it's set me up pretty well for this year.
"I've seen the game from behind the footy, in front of the footy and with it in the midfield."
Lukosius says the license he has been given by Gold Coast's coaching staff to be aggressive with his kicks has made a huge difference.
After just 28 career games, he is rapidly emerging as one of the best ball users in the competition.
"They've got full confidence in me, which is great.
"If I miss a kick, it doesn’t sit in my head for too long. I can move on pretty quickly and I think the coaches love that as well, they're willing for me to take my kicks.
"It's great to have that confidence from them.
"I think it can set me apart from other players and can be an asset to the team. There's no doubt when there's a chance to be dangerous, I'm looking for it."
Lukosius has been trusted with kicking-in after behinds for Gold Coast and is essentially a designated ball-user from the defensive 50, willing to take risky kicks into the corridor to open up the Suns' attack.
He still knows where the goals are too, as shown against Sydney last Saturday when he drilled a set shot from outside 50m that went sailing over the fence on the full.
After such a long wait, Lukosius said it was exciting to finally play alongside his good mate Izak Rankine, taken one spot behind him in the same draft.
"I've played school footy with him, state footy with him, played with him for ages and was here with him for 18 months and never got to run out on the field with him, so it's just good to see him enjoying his footy and back out there," Lukosius said.
"Nothing's surprising me – he's only going to get better and better, which is exciting."