WEST Coast forward Willie Rioli has declared he is physically ready to return at AFL level and it will "mean the world" to him to play football again as he prepares for his two-year ban to end.
And captain Luke Shuey has made it clear an excited player group would welcome the premiership star's immediate AFL selection and there was no lingering tension about his return.
Rioli will be available for the Eagles' clash against Brisbane on Saturday, with his suspension for twice substituting urine in doping tests set to end at midnight on Friday.
The 26-year-old broke his silence publicly in a video released to West Coast members on Tuesday morning, expressing his excitement at an imminent return to the game.
The Eagles are yet to declare if the skilful small forward will return at AFL or WAFL level this week, but Rioli made it clear he is ready to play.
"I feel like my body is ready to go," Rioli said.
"I get nervous every game, but this will be more of a relief for me.
TIME TO REBUILD The lessons West Coast could learn from crosstown rivals
"It will probably be surreal to me. It will mean a lot, not only to me, but to my family who have been through this hard time. It will mean the world."
If Rioli plays at AFL level this week, he would then be ruled out of WAFL selection during a period of quarantine when he returns.
The Eagles face a decision between either playing him for what will be one AFL match if their season ends this week, or keeping him in WA for a string of WAFL games.
Rioli, who joined teammates on Tuesday for a light training session at Mineral Resources Park, said his time away from the game had been "mentally challenging" and he was grateful for the family and club support he had received.
"Waiting for the outcome was the hardest part (and) not knowing what my future was looking like," he said.
"I had mixed emotions about it. I’ve learned to take things as they come, so I'm just excited about the next chapter of my journey.
"It was good to come back and do what I love doing, and that's playing footy."
LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?
Rioli said his teammates had been "really welcoming and provided me with great support" since returning to the club.
"It’s good to be back in the club environment," he said.
"There’s a few of the boys who I have become really close to and are like family to me now. The club is like a sanctuary and safe place for me."
Shuey said Rioli's selection this week should be based on whether he was in the best 22 players after the player group endorsed his return to the club knowing he would eventually be eligible for selection.
The midfielder said there was no lingering tension, despite the fact Rioli's immediate return would come at the expense of a teammate.
"When we decided to bring him back, it was if he's in our best 22 we're going to play him," Shuey said.
"We're not just going to not play him because he hasn't been here for the last two years.
"We're all about what's happening this year and if anyone had a problem with that then we could discuss it.
"We all bought into it as a player group and as a footy club."