Former Port Adelaide key defender Troy Chaplin will represent Richmond for the first time against Hawthorn on Saturday as the Tigers build what coach Damien Hardwick believes can be a formidable AFL defence.
Chaplin, on the comeback from knee surgery, will play half a game against the Hawks in Launceston as he tunes up for the the club's season-opener against Carlton.
Fellow defender Dylan Grimes, working his way back from major hamstring surgery, isn't expected back in the AFL until round two, while young tall backman David Astbury will miss at least the rest of the pre-season with a foot injury.
While Port Adelaide cast doubts over how 27-year-old Chaplin's knee would hold up long-term when they refused to match Richmond's free agency offer last October, Hardwick was in no doubt his club gained a big asset.
"We're certainly looking forward to Troy coming in," Hardwick said on Thursday.
"He's a very good player but he's got outstanding leadership qualities.
"He'll further help guys such as Alex Rance, Ben Griffiths, Jake Batchelor, all these players around him."
Hardwick said the Tigers' defence, exposed for depth by a string of injuries in recent seasons, was starting to look much more substantial.
"We've just got to manage to get those players on the park at one time and we think once that happens we'll have a formidable back six," Hardwick said.
While Grimes is closing in on a comeback, midfielder Nathan Foley, recovering from a long-term Achilles injury, isn't expected back until at least round five.
Hardwick said Richmond were out to further building momentum against the Hawks after last weekend's heartening win over Essendon.
He said supporters confident the Tigers could break through this year for their first finals appearance since 2001 had every right to feel that way.
"We've been on a process and asked them to hang in for the journey," he said.
"It's certainly to a stage now where we can firmly say we've got a list that is capable."