Jack Higgins is poised to take another significant step on his journey back from brain surgery when he lines up for Richmond against Collingwood in Sunday's AFL pre-season series clash at Wangaratta.
The affable 20-year-old was prepared for the worst - paralysis or even death - after suffering a brain bleed following a VFL clash in July last year.
He underwent two operations and feared his AFL career was over after just 33 games.
But Higgins resumed training in November and has been cleared to play his first game in seven months, to the delight of his teammates.
"Higgo we missed for the most part of last year with that challenging phase in his life (but) he's been really good on the track," Richmond captain Trent Cotchin told AAP.
Higgins last month revealed he had gone through some dark times after being told he had an abnormality that made him more susceptible to brain bleeds and would need to undergo a risky operation.
"At the time, there were some pretty bad things going through my head," Higgins said.
"I thought I'd probably never play footy again, probably never walk again, have to have a carer for the rest of my life.
"So to be out there training, after I had the surgery three months ago when I could hardly walk, hardly eat ... it's pretty crazy."
Higgins is likely to wear a protective helmet when he runs out alongside 14 premiership Tigers in their first serious hit-out of the pre-season at Norm Minns Oval.
Richmond will unveil their top draft pick from last year, Thomson Dow (No.21 overall), but will be without a host of senior players.
Cotchin, Dustin Martin, Jack Riewoldt, Shane Edwards, Tom Lynch and Bachar Houli are unavailable because of their involvement in Friday night's bushfire relief match between Victoria and the All-Stars.
Australian Associated Press