AFL premiers Richmond near full strength

Michael Ramsey
Dion Prestia (centre) is back from injury and will play for Richmond against Gold Coast on Saturday

Richmond will welcome back four AFL premiership players, while Reece Conca will play in the VFL just six weeks after dislocating his ankle.

Dion Prestia (ribs), Nathan Broad (calf), Bachar Houli (groin) and Jack Graham (shoulder) were named to face Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

Ruckman Toby Nankervis was rested, while Conca will play a half in the reserves.

"We're in a good situation now with some troops back so we're looking forward to those guys putting their hand up," Hardwick said earlier on Thursday.

"We had some guys that played certainly some really good football last week. It's tough this time of year.

"You're trying to get your side ready for the game at hand and some players are going to miss out."

Second-gamer Liam Baker was dropped despite a solid start to his AFL career, while Connor Menadue, Jacob Townsend and Sam Lloyd were also left out.

Ivan Soldo will go in for Nankervis and play his first senior game since round 21 last season.

Premiership forward Dan Butler, who hasn't played since injuring his ankle in round 16, is also nearing a return that would add to the Tigers' selection squeeze.

Hardwick is confident the planned changes won't be too disruptive for the Tigers, who sit four points clear at the top of the ladder.

"The tight-knit system that we play, those guys step in pretty well," Hardwick said.

"I'm not too concerned by having too many changes."

Saturday's clash looms as a golden chance for the Tigers to claim a long-awaited interstate win, having lost all four games on the road this season.

The 17th-placed Suns copped a 96-point thrashing from Melbourne last week but should be strengthened by the return of captain Steven May, David Swallow and Rory Thompson.

"The side that was taken apart last week won't be the side that goes out there this week," Hardwick said.

"We certainly know that if they win contested ball, they win ball games. They've won that stat four times and they've won all those four games.

"They'll be smarting a little bit, on their home deck, so we've got to make sure we come to play."