Richmond coach Damien Hardwick expects Dustin Martin to be at the peak of his powers when he returns for Friday night's AFL blockbuster against Geelong.
Martin was granted leave from the club to visit his father in New Zealand last week and missed the Tigers' round-seven win over the Western Bulldogs.
It came as he served a mandatory stint on the sidelines because of concussion.
Martin had also been battling a foot injury that Hardwick revealed had robbed the midfielder of his explosive strength earlier in the season.
But the time off has done Martin the world of good, according to Hardwick, who will welcome back his biggest star with open arms.
Defender Nick Vlastuin will also return from a knee injury, with captain Trent Cotchin (hamstring) and Dylan Grimes (concussion) joining premiership teammates Dion Prestia and Kane Lambert (both calf) on the sidelines.
"(Martin) trained really well the other day and sometimes a week off can really freshen players up, both physically and mentally," Hardwick said.
"We think we'll get the very best version of Dusty this week, which is a good thing to have."
There are few secrets between Richmond and Geelong, who will meet for the ninth time in less than four years, with Hardwick and Cats counterpart Chris Scott both this week hinting at subtle changes to their approach to the contest.
The Tigers have won six of the last seven meetings but face a Geelong outfit that has added boom recruit Jeremy Cameron to their forward mix since their most recent encounter - last year's grand final.
Fellow off-season addition Shaun Higgins returns in place of injured small forward Gryan Miers (leg) and Sam Simpson has been called up for his first senior match of the year, while Jordan Clark and Quinton Narkle have been dropped.
Hardwick hopes Vlastuin's return will help fill the void left by All-Australian backman Grimes.
"Sides consistently evolve and Geelong have done that this year with the addition of Jeremy, and it will provide a different set of circumstances that we've got to combat this time," Hardwick said.
"But we're very confident that our defensive mix will be able to curtail that if we play at our very best.
"We're after pressure up the field to provide a certain level of consistency that the ball comes in a little bit dirty because at the end of the day if you give those guys clean looks you're going to struggle to defend, no matter how good your back six is."
Hardwick dismissed the notion that Geelong are carrying mental scars from recent high-profile failings against Richmond, including finals defeats in three of the last four seasons.
"You can look back but you're not moving forward if you do that," Hardwick said.
"For us it's all about what we can do this week.
"Both sides are vastly different from the last time we played and we're just hoping we get the same result."
Australian Associated Press