Majak Daw is putting pressure on himself to deliver for North Melbourne in 2017, saying it's time he lived up to his potential.
Daw has played 25 games in seven seasons with North, having been selected as a project player in the rookie draft at the end of 2009.
The Sudanese-born tall played a career-high nine games last season and stood up in the Roos' elimination final loss to Adelaide, kicking a team-high four goals.
Late last year, North underlined the high hopes it had for Daw when it created a vacancy on its forward line by not renewing veteran spearhead Drew Petrie's contract. The club then re-signed Daw until the end of 2019.
The 26-year-old told AFL.com.au at North's season launch on Friday night he felt ready to repay North's faith.
"In the past I've had players ahead of me in experience and players playing well, but now I think there's almost no excuse," Daw said.
"There's no reason why I can't be in the North Melbourne side. I've played a lot of games now and I've been at the club a long time – it's almost time for me to deliver for the team.
"I'm putting pressure on myself, but I feel like my body's fit and everything's going well so I'm ready to have a good season."
Daw's preparation for 2017 was disrupted when he was forced to undergo surgery after tearing the meniscus in his right knee at training in January.
He returned to play North's final two JLT Community Series games, against Hawthorn and Greater Western Sydney. He finished the pre-season competition confident his fitness was where it needed to be ahead of round one, but felt his touch, especially in the air, was "not quite up to scratch".
Daw believed he had time to regain that touch on the training track in the lead-up to round one, and would have been buoyed by his two-goal return for Werribee in a VFL practice match against Sandringham on Saturday.
Daw combined well with fellow tall forward Ben Brown, who was playing his first game since undergoing pre-season knee surgery, and took several strong contested marks.
With fellow forward Mason Wood (hamstring) still at least a month away from returning to the field, Daw and Brown appear set to partner Jarrad Waite against West Coast at Etihad Stadium next Sunday if North sticks with the three-pronged forward line it has fielded in recent seasons.
But Daw, who has yet to play in a round one game, is not taking anything for granted, saying simply that he is "hopeful" of playing against the Eagles.
However, the former rookie knows that after years of sitting behind the likes of Petrie, Waite and Brown – and, at times, Lachie Hansen, Robbie Tarrant and Aaron Black – in North's forward-line pecking order, the Kangaroos' determination to play its emerging players in 2017 means he has never been better placed to cement a regular senior spot.
"Just being versatile I can add another dimension to the team, in that I can go and pinch-hit in the ruck to help 'Goldy' (Todd Goldstein) and then play with the other key forwards like 'Waitey' and 'Browny'," Daw says.
"For a big man, I've also got good genetics that allow me to play quicker than players my size. We base our game on pressure and it's a real asset of the team that all of our forwards can chase and tackle, so that's something I've got to bring as well.
"I just want to be a consistent player, do all of the team stuff, and I guess just have an impact on the side."