WEST Coast captain Luke Shuey has shaken off the soft tissue fears that had crept into his game after a string of hamstring and calf injuries, with surgery and a 12-week "reset" preparing him to attack the rest of the season with a clear mind.
Shuey returned from a serious hamstring injury in the WAFL at the weekend and blitzed his comeback with 22 disposals and five clearances in limited game time, with the Norm Smith medallist on track for an AFL return against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
The star midfielder's left hamstring tendon injury in round three marked the fifth time he had broken down in 12 months, and he admitted the pattern had become a mental hurdle.
But a comprehensive rehab program, which included tweaks to his recovery and specialist visits, had prepared the 31-year-old to hopefully put his soft tissue issues behind him.
"Just before the Port game I had one hammy and then I had one in the Port game, and it was starting to creep in, a little bit of worry about then," Shuey said on Monday.
"Now having had surgery and 12 weeks off, I feel like it's been a complete reset and restart. Rest, get fresh and go again.
"We really built from the ground up. About two weeks post-surgery we started doing tiny amounts of exercises and strengthening work.
"Then built up over the last 10 weeks and I'm completely confident now."
Shuey put his reworked recovery in the hands of the Eagles' physios and sports science staff after the Eagles vowed to dig as deep as possible to end his run of soft tissue injuries.
Part of his return to action will be backing off during training to make sure he gets to game day, rather than training at 100 per cent every session.
"We saw a few people over east in the hamstring and soft tissue field, but nothing I had to worry about," Shuey said.
"That's for the physios and sports science guys to look after and they've put a program in place for me, which I've followed to a tee and confident it's going to work.
"That (training at 100 per cent) is one thing a lot of guys my age around the League probably can't do anymore.
"You can't train every time to get better … so finding ways to hold yourself back just to get to game day is the challenge. That's OK with me."
Shuey said he pulled up well after playing 67 minutes in his WAFL return and a similar output was expected if he returns against the Bulldogs.
"I hit the amount of minutes we wanted to hit, and all the GPS data that I know nothing about all went to plan," he said.
"If it's AFL with the step up in intensity, probably the same minutes roughly.
"I think I've done enough work to be able to run out a game well enough."