Richmond captain Toby Nankervis is no certainty of lining up for the Tigers' Opening Round clash with Gold Coast as he continues to nurse a foot issue.

Nankervis won't feature in Tuesday's Charity Shield practice match against Collingwood on Tuesday and will instead take part in a separate training session that will help give the veteran ruckman a stronger indication of his playing chances for next week.

The 29-year-old is currently going from session to session in his rehabilitation to build his fitness levels and overcome the ailment - one that has now opened the door for new recruit and ex-Swan Sam Naismith to earn his debut in the yellow and black.

Naismith has played just two games at AFL level since the end of the 2017 season, enduring multiple knee reconstructions and a delisting at Sydney to fall out of the top flight before earning a lifeline over the off-season at Punt Road.

Viewed as the second-string ruckman for new coach Adem Yze, Naismith has been backed to take his chance and potentially hold it by the man he's likely to replace.

"He's had a great summer," Nankervis said on Monday.

"He's done most of the work so, we're in a great spot in that department. (If he plays) I'll be rapt for Sam, he's a great person and he's had some hardship, but he's been playing some great footy as well.

"I wasn't really surprised at all (by Naismith's resilience) to be honest because I know what type of person he is. He's very determined, very competitive and he wants to play AFL footy. That's that's the reality of it, he's not here to play VFL footy so he's doing whatever he can."

Richmond recruit Sam Naismith at pre-season training in 2023 (Image via Richmond Media)

The Tigers are yet to settle on whether they'll implement a one or two-ruck system this year after chopping and changing with the departed Ivan Soldo in 2023, with emerging ruck-forward Samson Ryan also in the selection mix.

With Nankervis an incumbent in his first season as a standalone skipper, the trio of ruck options is creating healthy competition under Yze ahead of the season's start.

Speaking on Ryan, Nankervis said the 23-year-old has put his best foot forward over the summer to keep himself in the mix.

"He's taken massive leaps forward this pre-season," the Richmond captain said.

"He's a key position player, so it does take time to get your body big enough to play ruck and key forward positions. 

"I feel like he's in that space now where he's moving really well. He's big and strong. So I look forward to seeing what he can do as well."

While Nankervis is no certainty of missing the start of Richmond's 2024 season, young midfielder Tyler Sonsie is set to spend the opening two rounds on the sidelines through a suspension handed down from the VFL last year.

The former Pick 28 selection has enjoyed a strong pre-season to date to build his selection case ahead of a return, keeping himself in consideration in the minds of his coaches.

Sonsie adds to a midfield unit that is set to be led by Tim Taranto, Jacob Hopper and veteran Dustin Martin in 2024, while Dion Prestia is looking to return from a hamstring issue as youngster Thomson Dow also presses his case.

Tyler Sonsie during the 2022 AFL Round 19 match between Richmond and Fremantle (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Seen as "a real strength" in Yze's plans, Nankervis expressed his delight in the depth options the Tigers have this year.

"We've seen a lot of what Sonsie can do in a little amount of games. He's come back in great shape, is running really well and he really hit the ground running. He'll be keen to play early," he said.

"I think it's a real strength of our group. I think the depth in the midfield that we've got - Thomson Dow's had a great summer and Dion is a star of the competition. There's so much depth, which we probably haven't had over the last couple of years.

"So hopefully everyone can stay injury-free and really attack that part of the game."

Richmond's first game of the season is just 12 days away, with the Tigers heading to the Gold Coast to face the Suns on Saturday, March 9.