Dustin Martin up and running for Richmond

Teammates say Dustin Martin is looking refreshed as Richmond head into AFL pre-season training.
Teammates say Dustin Martin is looking refreshed as Richmond head into AFL pre-season training.

Trent Cotchin expects superstar teammate Dustin Martin at his powerful best to help lead Richmond back into AFL premiership contention next season.

The game's most recognisable figure was dubbed 'Slim Dusty' after he shed up to 10kg on a fruit-based diet following surgery on a lacerated kidney in July.

The injury saw Martin sit out the last five games of 2021 as the Tigers missed the finals for the first time in five years.

The 30-year-old has looked lean while working through his running program in recent weeks, with full-contact work not expected until the new year.

However, Cotchin expects a more familiar version of Martin to line up against Carlton in round one.

"Everyone's saying how much weight he's lost but he's actually not that much lighter than he was before he got the injury, right now," Cotchin said.

"But he does look good, he looks refreshed, he's running ... I think he was really excited to get back amongst the place that we love, which is with the group.

"I think he put (the weight) back on in the way that he wanted to, but he looks healthy, he's happy and looking forward to getting back out there."

Martin is among the leading candidates to take over the captaincy from long-serving skipper Cotchin, who announced in September he was stepping down from the role.

Dylan Grimes, Jack Riewoldt, Nick Vlastuin and Jack Graham are also in the mix, with the playing group will have some say in the decision via a vote early next year.

Much of the focus has been on Martin, who Cotchin said is "one of many" who could take over.

"He's got amazing attributes and he's also got some weaknesses, like all of us as human beings," Cotchin said, adding the Tigers could even opt for multiple captains to share the load.

"But time will tell who it is and the direction that the club will take."

Australian Associated Press