Tiger star Prestia presses for AFL finals

Dion Prestia is poised to return for Richmond and boost the Tigers' chances for another flag.
Dion Prestia is poised to return for Richmond and boost the Tigers' chances for another flag.

Richmond's reigning club champion Dion Prestia will press his claims for an AFL finals comeback during a scratch match next weekend.

Prestia hasn't played since suffering an ankle injury in round five.

But he will feature in a practice match next weekend after receiving unconditional backing from his coach Damien Hardwick ahead of a qualifying final against Brisbane or Port Adelaide.

"Dion is a wonderful player, he is a best-and-fairest winner," Hardwick said after the Tigers secured third spot with a 44-point win against Adelaide on Saturday.

"He hasn't played for us for a long period of time but he just makes us better by being out there.

"So if he's putting his hand up to play, I'm picking him."

Prime midfield mover Shai Bolton is certain to return from a calf strain which kept him out of the win against the Crows.

And Hardwick expects spearhead Tom Lynch to also play the first final after missing the Adelaide Oval fixture because of a hamstring strain.

"He is likely at this stage," Hardwick said.

"He is a pretty important player to how we play.

"We get one chance at hamstrings to get those right ... our strength and conditioning staff will do a wonderful job of getting him available hopefully to play.

"But ... we won't take a risk, I wouldn't have thought."

The trio's likely inclusions come after dual premiership players Shane Edwards and David Astbury made triumphant returns from long absences against the Crows.

Hardwick, chasing a third flag in four seasons, was reluctant to compare this year's play-off preparations to those in the past.

"What I have been incredibly proud of is the resilience our players have shown," he said.

"It has been a completely different year and our guys, after probably some initial to's and fro's, really embraced it.

"Some clubs struggled in the hub. We embraced the hub.

"We enjoyed it and it brought our group closer together ... it has been a positive for us."

Australian Associated Press