POST-SEASON groin surgery has freed Richmond ruckman Ivan Maric of the nagging soreness that has plagued him in recent seasons.
The 28-year-old former Adelaide big man has been managing the injury recently, with coach Damien Hardwick admitting last season it was something he'd always have to deal with.
However, an operation at the end of the year has reduced Maric's discomfort and he has trained to a high level throughout the pre-season.
"He had a groin op towards the end of last year but he's been training fully for us," forward line coach Brendon Lade told AFL.com.au on Friday.
"It really helped, the operation.
"He’s a big player for our team and we need him playing."
Maric has still been managed through some sessions and it is yet to be decided what his involvement will be in the NAB Challenge, which starts for Richmond next Friday night against Melbourne.
The Tigers are certainly planning on him being part of their team in round one against Gold Coast on March 15.
The ruckman will no doubt benefit from the acquisition of Shaun Hampson, who is expected to spend time in attack and help Maric around the ground.
"He's loving that he's going to have Hampson around to help him share the load a bit, so we're very excited to get them playing together and playing well because it's going to cause headaches for a few teams," Lade said.
"Having the workload he (Maric) had over the past two years, we probably contributed to the injury as coaches but he was all we had.”
The Tigers' attacking structure will also feature a new face this season with former captain Chris Newman training with the forwards.
Newman played further up the ground last year in a step away from the defensive role he has played for much of his career.
Lade said it was important for older players to face fresh challenges and the 31-year-old had embraced the shift forward.
"He's probably been our best small forward at this stage," he said.
"He knows how they work because he's played on them for 20 years.
"It will be good for them to chase him around.
"The big thing for Chris is he's still got his speed and his determination to get from contest to contest and compete hard at every one is second to none.
"We're going to try him up forward and so far, so good. Hopefully it goes well for the rest of the year."