RICHMOND'S Jack Higgins will cap a remarkable comeback from two bouts of brain surgery when he makes his AFL return against Collingwood.

The small forward has been named to tackle the Pies at the MCG on Thursday night, just nine months after his last surgery in September.

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Narrowly overlooked for round one, Higgins will join Bachar Houli in a full-strength Tigers line-up with its full array of stars to pick from.

Dual premiership ruckman Toby Nankervis has been dropped as the Tigers commit to Ivan Soldo as the sole big man as a result of the shortened quarters.

"I'm excited to play tomorrow night, can't wait for it, (it's) been a long time coming," Higgins said on Wednesday.

The clash against the Pies will come 364 days after his last match against Adelaide in round 13 last year.

"It's a great story, Jack, he'll play tomorrow night so it'll be his first game back since that significant injury last year and it's a testament to the lad," coach Damien Hardwick said. 

"His professionalism and his dedication to his craft is incredible. The one thing he's done is gone away and improved some facets of his game as well.

"There was a chance he may never play again."


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Houli, who had been nursing a calf injury in recent weeks that also kept him out of round one is a confirmed starter to tackle the Pies.

Nankervis will play minutes in the Tigers' reserves scratch match against the Pies at the MCG on Wednesday afternoon.

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"We'll go with the one bona fide ruck in Ivan," Hardwick said.

"We feel like the game the way it is at the moment, pretty dynamic, it's probably going to lend itself to one genuine ruck and a pinch-hitting ruck which will either be a key forward or another mechanism we've got in place."

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It is expected to see the Tigers use key forwards Jack Riewoldt or Tom Lynch assist Soldo or a midfielder such as Josh Caddy or Marlion Pickett to replicate what pinch-hit option Shaun Grigg achieved in 2017.

Hardwick confirmed Dion Prestia would play despite the reigning best and fairest being absent from the light captain's run at Punt Road on Wednesday morning.