FORMER Launceston midfielder Sam Lonergan will begin his new football life in familiar surroundings tomorrow.
Lonergan will make his Richmond debut against Hawthorn in the round 3 NAB Cup clash at Aurora Stadium, the first time he has played on the ground since being part of a Launceston under-age premiership a decade ago.
It will be the 25-year-old's first competitive outing since recovering from ankle surgery, a week ahead of schedule.
He said it would be unlikely he would play a full game and expected to spend some time in either the red or green vest.
``It's a good result considering the hard work I've done since coming back from rehab,'' Lonergan said yesterday.
``It's the first game since I've left (Tasmania) that I've been able to go back and play.
``It would have been nice to play a full game in front of family and friends, but we'll just monitor our game time for the first one back since missing a fair chunk of footy.
``It would have been nice to have a few games under the belt before coming back to Tassie, but that's the way it is.''
Lonergan was delisted by Essendon at the end of last season after 79 games and 39 goals in a career that began with pick 50 in the 2005 national draft.
He was handed a lifeline by the Tigers with pick 22 in this year's rookie draft.
The match will also be the first outing of the season for Devonport's Grant Birchall, who has been rested so far in the preseason.
The Hawks will also welcome back the versatile Shaun Burgoyne for his first game of the preseason after knee surgery, and midfielder Xavier Ellis has been named.
Small forward Paul Puopolo has recovered from the knee injury he sustained against Gold Coast a fortnight ago.
But star forward Lance Franklin is one of a number of senior Hawks that won't be making the trip south.
Brad Sewell, Brendan Whitecross, Brian Lake, Brent Guerra, Jack Gunston, David Hale, Luke Breust, Luke Hodge and Cyril Rioli are others that will miss out.
Former Port Adelaide defender Troy Chaplin will join Lonergan in making Richmond debuts in a strong Tigers squad.
Big guns in skipper Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Ivan Maric have been recalled, along with Reece Conca and Steven Morris.
Coleman medallist Jack Riewoldt will make it a Tasmanian trio with Lonergan and Birchall.