Albury premiership ruckman Zach Bye has set his sights on a round one return.
In a major boost to the Tigers' flag credentials, Bye is on track to return from a season ending knee injury suffered in April.
Bye underwent surgery in late April and recently started running again for the first time since the operation.
"For the past month I have been able to run in straight lines," Bye said.
"Now the specialist said I can start to change direction.
"So hopefully I can get through the rest of the pre-season and be ready for round one."
Bye stamped himself as one of the most promising big men in the competition in 2018 when he was part of the Tigers upset flag triumph over Wangaratta.
The 24-year-old established himself as the O&M powerhouse's No. 1 ruckmen before being struck down by injury.
Ben Kelly was forced to shoulder a lot of the Tigers' ruck duties this season in the absence of Bye.
However,the Tigers are set to boast one of the most formidable ruck combinations in the competition after they landed the prized signature of man mountain Brodie A'Vard over the off-season.
With A'Vard and Bye sharing the ruck duties, Kelly can be released to play as a key forward or key back and provide the Tigers with a lot more flexibility.
Bye said it was frustrating watching the Tigers from the sidelines who were undefeated when the season was scrapped due to COVID.
"I definitely missed not playing, especially after how well the boys did," he said.
"It was pretty hard to watch but it was also good to see how well they were going.
"I tried to make the most of a bad situation and kept a close eye on the opposition ruckman and how they went about it.
"I played against Brodie when he was at Raiders and he is a quality ruckman.
"I'm looking forward to working with Brodie and learning as much as I can off him."
ALSO IN SPORT
The competition's big man stocks are brimming with quality with Dawson Simpson, Callum Crisp, Lachie Howe, Tom Goodwin, Zack Leitch and Isaac Muller all highly regarded.
"I haven't had the opportunity to ruck against Simpson, Crisp or Goodwin yet," Bye said.
"But it's always good to challenge yourself when you get the opportunity against some of the best.
"The best ruckman that I've come across so far is Zack Leitch.
"He is not the biggest bloke running around but reads the play well and get in the right spots."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.