RICHMOND expects premiership midfielder Dion Prestia to return to the main training group by the start of next year after undergoing post-season ankle surgery.
Prestia was among five Tigers to go under the knife at the end of the season, training away from the main group when the Tigers' full list of players returned for their summer program on Monday.
Premiership Tigers Daniel Rioli (broken foot) and Kane Lambert (knee), and defenders Jayden Short (shoulder) and Oleg Markov (shoulder) were others starting the pre-season with restricted duties.
"Dion Prestia had very minor ankle surgery post-season and has resumed running," Tigers physical performance manager Peter Burge told the club's website.
"He’s been running now for about four weeks, but we’ll progress his program really carefully and have him in with the main group post-Christmas at this stage."
Rioli is out of a moonboot and completing a rehab program with some cross-training and weights, Burge said, after suffering the broken foot in the final quarter of the Grand Final.
Lambert, meanwhile, underwent minor knee surgery at the end of the season and resumed running four weeks ago.
"He’s going great at the moment and will resume training this week, once he’s back from Tasmania with the young guys," Burge said.
Short and Markov ran laps together on Monday and will be held out of contact drills as they rehab from shoulder surgery.
While the Tigers are among the last clubs to return to pre-season training – a result of playing all the way through to the Grand Final – Burge said the club viewed the late start as a positive.
"People may perceive it as delayed, but we don't view it that way," he said.
"We played three high intensity finals football games and our VFL team played in four.
"So we actually look at it that we've got those extra weeks of high intensity conditioning in our bodies.
"We've got a really well prepared group who have come back off their break doing programs, so for us it's business as usual."