Gold Coast's ruck depth is thin, but Jarrod Witts can shoulder the load solo, starting with Sunday's date against All-Australian Nic Naitanui, says coach Stuart Dew.
With Zac Smith (PCL) still eight weeks away from returning, and untried youngster Matt Conroy undergoing surgery on Tuesday to repair his ACL, the Suns have no recognised back-up for Witts.
Dew says his co-captain will be fine for the season opener against West Coast, and well beyond.
"The bigger the challenge, the more he likes to assert himself on the game," Dew said.
"Nic is an outstanding centre bounce player, and around the ground he's different, he can follow up like a midfielder.
"Wittsy, we'll back that across the course of the game he'll be really consistent for us and that's all we're asking from him, to be consistent, give our guys as good a use as he can and try and dictate where that ball goes."
Witts will receive moments of relief from veteran forward Sam Day, who will partner Ben King close to goal.
In the worst-case scenario that Witts would fall foul of injury – he's played 79 of 83 games since joining the Suns – Dew said they could turn to undersized swingman Chris Burgess before Smith returned.
Gold Coast upset the Eagles when the teams met last year, but Dew expects a different opponent at Optus Stadium.
The Suns won by 44 points in the first match following the COVID break.
"It's a new year, they'll be more prepared, no doubt.
"We probably snuck under their radar at the start of last year.
"We're under no illusion they'll be a far greater proposition this time around.
"We're not going over to make up the numbers and see how we go, we want to set our sights on getting a good start to the season."