JACK Darling's emergence from spearhead Josh Kennedy's shadow is one of many reasons West Coast is flying, and the in-form Eagles forward isn't satisfied with his brilliant start to 2018.
Darling sits equal third in the Coleman Medal race with 18 majors after adding another three to his tally in Saturday's thumping of Port Adelaide.
But, just as importantly, the 25-year-old is back playing with presence.
Darling took six contested marks against the Power, including a towering grab at the top of the goalsquare in the final quarter.
EAGLES ROMP: Darling leads rout of Power
With dual Coleman medallist Kennedy sidelined for the opening three rounds, more responsibility fell on Darling's shoulders and the maturing Eagle has embraced his role leading a youthful forward line.
"I think I had a pretty good presence on the field (against Port). My next step is trying to get a full season together," Darling said.
"In the past I've had some good patches, but my next goal is to play the next 15 to 20 games just like I did on the weekend.
"It's just a focus (to have presence in the air). I've said it before, win it or halve it – I don't want to get beaten.
"That's all I'm trying to do."
Darling credited a settled family life, after the stressful premature birth of son Max 12 months ago, and simple focus points for his career-best form in his eighth season.
Speaking at his former school, Sacred Heart College, he reminisced about his journey before entering the AFL, which might never have happened after he was randomly king-hit outside a Subiaco hotel eight years ago.
Darling suffered brain bruising and a fractured skull, and spent three days in hospital recovering, while he also lost his sense of smell.
"They said it's supposed to come back, but mine's not back yet," he said.
"It can be a good thing, but can also be a bad thing. One time I left the gas on for six or seven hours, almost died.
"Kitty litter and pick up (after) the dog, that's my duties (at home). I play my role, just like I do in the side."
The Eagles took Darling with pick 26 in the 2010 draft and snared an emerging star, with the West Perth product bagging 53 majors in his second season.
The mobile big man has been remarkably consistent in front of goals, kicking at least 39 majors in four of the past five years.
His ability to apply pressure at ground level is also helping West Coast buck the trend this season by playing a taller forward line.
Resting ruckmen Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett regularly line up alongside Darling and Kennedy, with 191cm youngster Jake Waterman also nailing down his spot as a roaming forward who can play tall or small.
"The rucks are going well. They're really athletic. Scotty's kicking goals and Nic around the ground has been going well, he's like another midfielder," Darling said.
"Up forward, I'm only 191cm – I'm not a big guy – and I can play small as well.
"Scotty up forward, he kicks goals and puts on pressure as well."
Darling expected that facing GWS on the rebound after a caning in Geelong would be West Coast's toughest challenge this season so far, with Richmond at home and Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium to come in a crucial month.