MERCURIAL Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt will be rusty in his return to senior footy after missing 10 weeks with a PCL injury, according to coach Damien Hardwick.
While Hardwick is looking forward to seeing his co-vice-captain return in Sunday's clash with Greater Western Sydney at the MCG, he expects his star forward to take some time to return to his best.
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"He has missed a lot of footy, so he is going to be a little bit rusty. Let's just give him some time to settle in," Hardwick told reporters on Friday.
Jack Riewoldt will play his first game since round six on Sunday. Picture: AFL Photos
"We think it's going to be a little bit of a slow burn with the amount of footy he's missed."
Hardwick also noted that Riewoldt's injury-interrupted season has impacted his ability to build a strong connection with prized recruit Tom Lynch in the Tigers' forward line.
"They've only played a couple of games together, so … it will take some time, we understand that. We've just got to hope they can click as soon as possible, they're both very smart players," he said.
"[Riewoldt] is such a quality player, having him in the side just makes us better. I think we'll start to see with Jack coming into his own that it will actually make Tom a better player as well because he won't have to play on two or three defenders."
Hardwick expects gun midfielder Dustin Martin to be targeted by the Giants after the effective tagging efforts of Matt de Boer (currently sidelined with a shoulder injury) last time the sides met.
"Good players always get some sort of attention and Dustin's used to it," he said.
"The progression in Dustin's game [is that] he realises now that he doesn't have to be the guy all the time, he can certainly contribute in other ways and allow other players to step up."
We've just got to hope they can click as soon as possible, they're both very smart players - Damien Hardwick on Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch
Meanwhile Toby Nankervis is edging closer to a return from the adductor issue sidelining him since the Tigers' round eight win over Fremantle.
"He has had a great last couple of weeks, he'll do pretty much full training I think today, certainly next week he'll have a full week of training, then he's probably about two weeks away from playing at this stage (this week included)," said Hardwick.