EMERGING midfield star Brandon Eliis has started his final pre-season as a first-to-fourth-year player in fine style, blitzing the field in Richmond’s 3km time trial on Saturday morning.

Ellis crossed the line ahead of fellow midfielder Kamdyn McIntosh, with rookie Jason Castagna in third place.

Skipper Trent Cotchin and veteran defender Troy Chaplin joined the young players at Princes Park.

Ellis said his skipper was the ultimate professional and had turned up to encourage his younger teammates.

He said the Tigers were hoping to put this year’s final exit behind them and the pain of that loss would drive them through the summer.

"It will sit with us, I guess, all pre-season. You’re only good as your last game. It really hurt,” he said following the run.

He said Richmond’s improvement would come from its young players who would be pushing the senior players for positions.

One of those players is McIntosh, who made a memorable debut this year in the season opener against Carlton (23 touches, nine marks and a crucial goal).

It all happened on the eve of his 21st birthday in his third season at Tigerland.

Pre-season training continues on Monday for the Tigers' young group, with all the players returning on November 27.

"The first (time trial) is always the hardest one,” Ellis said.

"It’s over now and we can just focus on footy for the next couple of weeks until the Christmas break.

"It’s going to be a fierce pre-season."