RICHMOND ruckman Ivan Maric will have to manage groin soreness for the rest of his career but will return to the Tigers' team in round 16 against Gold Coast, Tigers coach Damien Hardwick says.
Maric missed the Tigers' win over St Kilda last Sunday and has already been ruled out of this Saturday's clash with North Melbourne
But Hardwick said on Thursday Maric's injury was not a concern as the Tigers get closer to their first finals appearance since 2001.
"The big thing for him is just getting his body right. It's going to be an ongoing issue throughout the remainder of his career," Hardwick said.
"He's just got to manage his body. We've got to keep strengthening that core area. Every year around this time he probably needs a couple of weeks off to get the remainder of the year up and going.
"He'll be fine. Next week he'll be available to play."
Hardwick said the heavy load Maric carries as Richmond's number one ruckmen inevitably took a toll as the season wore on.
"Funnily enough it still does need some load going through there, but it's just the constant grind of the ruck contest," Hardwick said.
"You look at the start of the year the stoppage numbers are about 85 a game, now they're up over about 115 so they're going up again.
"So it's that constant battle and Ivan probably does, a bit like Will Minson does (for the Western Bulldogs), about 90 per cent of our ruck work, at centre bounces and ruck contests.
"It's just always going to catch up to him at some stage."
In Maric's absence, Hardwick said Richmond would use former Cat Orren Stephenson and Tyrone Vickery to tag team the in-form Todd Goldstein on Saturday.
"Goldstein is an outstanding ruck, probably not having the same season he did last year, but he's still an outstanding player," Hardwick said.
"I think [North's] clearance numbers are No. 1 in the AFL, at ball-ups they're elite, in their defensive 50 they're elite, so… we'll probably double team him (Goldstein) at various stages because he's so dominant in that area."
Richmond sits sixth on the ladder with a 9-4 record heading into Saturday's clash, while the Roos are 5-8 and lie 12th.
But Hardwick said North was a better team than its 2013 record suggested.
"They're a side that can score heavily and that's a thing that we went through today, the way they play they certainly can get their game up and going," he said.
"A lot of the KPI areas they're up where they need to belong, so we certainly have a big game ahead of us.
"They're a good side, they just haven't had a couple of results go their way. I think they've lost four games by under a goal so they could quite easily be where we're sitting."
Hardwick said he expected Saturday's game to be a close contest, saying Richmond's ability to stick with the fast-starting Roos in the first quarter would be vital to their chances.
The coach also said emerging defender Nick Vlaustin (shin) was likely to return to the Tigers' team if he completed training on Thursday.
Nick Bowen is a reporter with AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nick