An early return to pre-season to join West Coast's youngsters on an army-style camp could be the catalyst for midfielder's Lewis Jetta and Jack Redden to rediscover their best football in 2017.
Both Jetta and Redden struggled to reach the level that made them attractive recruits in 2016, arriving with high expectations but finding themselves dropped at different stages.
When the Eagles held a challenging army-style camp for their first and second year players during November – two weeks before the majority of the list was due back – Jetta and Redden asked to be involved.
"(It was) an army camp you do to break kids in and they both went on their own, along with Sharrod Wellingham," coach Adam Simpson told AFL.com.au.
"Not many players put their hand up to go on an SAS army camp when they're on their leave, but those guys jumped at it.
"That just set the platform for both of them and they haven't missed much training … last year they missed about five weeks each."
Jetta arrived at the Eagles as a straight swap with Sydney for ruckman Callum Sinclair at the end of 2015, while Redden was traded in for pick No.21 in that year's NAB AFL Draft.
Simpson conceded they had each endured disappointing years after limited pre-seasons and said he would have taken more time to build them up before playing them if he had his time again.
With both players aged 27, Simpson said he had noticed a significant improvement in their approach this pre-season and expected that to translate on-field.
"I think it's an understanding of how hard you've got to work," he said.
"What they were doing was adequate, but it's just gone up a level and it's self-driven.
"There's my expectations, but what drives you more as a player is your personal brand and your own expectations, and they're both proud people.
"Hopefully it turns into results for them."
Jetta appears locked into the Eagles' 22 for round one, but Redden is among a group of players still jockeying for selection against North Melbourne on March 26.
A 40-possession game with East Perth last weekend helped his cause, with Simpson declaring the team was far from locked.
Another Eagle pushing his claims is young defender Tom Barrass, with Simpson undecided on the team's best backline on the eve of round one.
"His progression has been up, but there's just a battle for spots at the moment," the coach said.
"We played Eric (Mackenzie) last week, the week before we played Tom for the first half and Eric for the second half … the week before that we played them together.
"We've been toing and froing for two or three weeks.
"Tom will play at East Perth this weekend and then we'll make a call next week, but he's going really well and he's got some attributes we really like."
The coach was also undecided on the ruck combination he would take into round one, with recruits Nathan Vardy and Drew Petrie preferred in the final JLT Community Series match.
Simpson said Jonathan Giles could play himself into the team with good form, but he wouldn't be preferred simply because he is a pure ruckman as opposed to a forward-ruck.
"We've been happy with Drew and Vardy … they're competing, they're not winning hit-outs, but they're having a crack," Simpson said.
"As long as that's predictable, we'll see how we go, but there's no doubt Giles at his best will be important for us through the year."