Corowa export Ryan Garthwaite has drawn huge praise from Richmond football boss Neil Balme.
The former Murray Bushranger enters his third season at Tigerland and will look to add to his two senior appearances in 2019.
Despite battling an achilles injury during the off-season, Balme has been very impressed with what he's seen.
"He’s a fantastic young man," Balme said.
"I know I say that about all of them, but he really is.
"There’s something pretty special about him, he goes above and beyond to do his job and look after his mates.
"He’s a beauty."
Balme hopes Garthwaite's determination and work ethic will lead to more AFL opportunities this year.
"He does everything to give himself a chance and gives his all every time he plays," Balme said.
"He’s made of the right stuff, so we’re hoping he gets his chances."
Balme admitted the response of the playing group has been excellent since bowing out in last year's preliminary final.
"Our objective is to put ourselves in a position where we can challenge and we did, unfortunately we didn’t go through with it," he said.
"Whilst you learn a lot from a loss, you don’t want to put everything on the one game.
"We’ve got to look at the way we played during the rest of the year and where we can improve.
"It’s always dangerous to say you’re going well in pre-season, because everyone seems to be going well when no-one has watched a game.
"We’ve had a pretty strong pre-season, the attitude of the players and the coaches has been fantastic.
"They’ve worked really hard and put themselves in a pretty strong position."
Richmond makes a return to the Border on February 25 and 26 as part of a community camp ahead of its opening JLT Community Series clash with Melbourne at Shepparton on March 3.
High-profile recruit Tom Lynch is likely to be among the visiting group.
"We went to Wangaratta last year for our JLT game, so they’ll be keen to get back," Balme said.
"It’s good for our guys, a very important part of selling the Richmond story is how you relate to your fans.
"We’ve got a ridiculous amount of members, so we’ve got to get the players used to connecting with our fans, whether they’re in Swan Street or at Wodonga.
"Virtually the ones that don’t play in the Shepparton game will do the Border stuff and we’ll have a few coaches go with them.
"There will be recognised names coming up this way and the kids we’ve recruited this year are fantastic young kids."
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