RICHMOND captain Trent Cotchin has admitted discomfort from the knee he hurt back in April persisted throughout the middle part of the season but is under control going into the finals.

The 23-year-old suffered bone bruising when he hyperextended his knee against Fremantle in round five.

While he played the following week against Geelong, he was ruled out of the Tigers' round seven clash against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.

He hasn't missed a game since but conceded it did linger and he initially had to manage it carefully.

"At this stage it's pretty free and there are no other issues so I've just got to make sure my body's ready to go next week," Cotchin told

"It was a little bit of a battle through the middle of the year, but my main focus this season has been doing my role for the team and I think that's been the majority of our guys' focuses.

"That's what you see in the strong cultures that are at the top all the time and that's what we're trying to get to."

On Tuesday morning, after the reality of finishing in the top eight had sunk in, Cotchin said the players were getting ready to embrace an unfamiliar experience as they prepared for Sunday's elimination final against Carlton.

They were set to train later on in the day, where he said he expected a little bit of natural anxiety to set in.

Cotchin predicted plenty of enthusiasm to shine through as the players prepared to break a finals drought in front of a predicted crowd of over 85,000.

"It's very different to previous years. A couple of jokes have been flying around that the boys would have been having a drink yesterday, so it's very different for us but we're excited," he said.

"In my time at Richmond, you see how proud and passionate our supporters are and to be starved of that opportunity for 12 or so years is a long time.

"The reality is, that's just sometimes how it works and we're very excited about the opportunity, but we know the challenge is ahead and we need to put our best four-quarter effort in on Sunday."

Coach Damien Hardwick acknowledged the challenge his players faced, given all but four of those in contention to play have never appeared in AFL finals before.

He also conceded a personal challenge against seasoned finals coach Mick Malthouse, who has presided over 50 finals in his career across Footscray, West Coast and Collingwood.

But he said the Tigers were determined to not just "make up the numbers" this weekend and instead "make a difference" in the finals series.  

"There's no ceiling on where we go," Hardwick said.

"We're coming up against a seasoned campaigner and outstanding coach; every side he's gone to has experienced success so it's going to be a challenge, there's no doubt about that.

"We've got 'Choco' [Mark Williams] there, who's experienced the premiership box and I was there at Hawthorn when they won the flag in 2008.

"We think we've got the capability if we play our best footy - our most consistent footy - of challenging every side in the eight."

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan