MEREWETHER'S Morgan Cibilic gets another chance to enhance his reputation as a World Surf League giant-killer when he contests the Narrabeen Classic, which starts on Friday.
Clibilic made it through to the semi-finals of last week's Newcastle Cup, knocking out fellow Novocastrian Ryan Callinan in the quarters.
At Narrabeen, the tour rookie has encountered a daunting first-up draw.
In his opening heat he will face reigning world champion Italo Ferreira, fresh from winning the Newcastle Cup, and former world champion Mick Fanning, who has come out of retirement to compete.
The top two place-getters in each heat advance to the round of 32, and the third-placed surfer drops back to the elimination round.
Cibilic will surf in heat six, followed by Callinan in heat eight, against Frenchman Michael Buerez and Italy's Leonardo Fioravanti.
Fanning, 39, says entering the Narrabeen event is a definite one-off and not part of a wider comeback to competitive surfing.
While his original plan was to return at beloved Bells Beach, where he rang the prized bell four times during his career, he admits his competitive juices are starting to flow ahead of the competition window opening on Friday.
"I'm always going to be a competitor at heart." he said.
"You don't want to lose but it's a bit different these days rather than back in the day when it felt like your whole world revolved around making the heat. No expectations mate. I'll be stoked if I get down the beach."
As he comes out of retirement for a one-off cameo appearance, Mick Fanning knows he's entering a World Surf League tour where the Brazilian storm is now at full-strength.
The three-time world champion will compete in the Narrabeen event from Friday in his first appearance since leaving the tour in 2018.
In his absence Brazil's big three of Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo have become the tour's dominant force.
At last week's Newcastle Cup, defending world champion Ferreira defeated Medina in an all-Brazil final with the South American nation providing five of the quarter-finalists at Merewether Beach.
"We battened down the hatches before the storm came right in," Fanning told AAP.
"They're incredible. I've got a lot of respect for Gabe, Italo and Felipe.
"The surfing they're doing is incredible and you can't really worry too much. You've just got to go out and concentrate on yourself.
"It's something I always did and hopefully that works in my favour if it comes to it but at the end of the day they're incredible surfers and they're on top of the world right now. They're extremely hard to beat."
Ferreira will head to Narrabeen with the tour leader's yellow jersey in the men after his Newcastle triumph while American Carissa Moore leads the women's rankings after her dominant win at Merewether.