RICHMOND star Ellie McKenzie will miss at least the opening stanza of the season with a calf injury.
The Tigers have not put a timeline on the 2020 No.1 pick's return from the "unique" issue, which sidelined her from the practice match loss to Geelong.
McKenzie – who finished equal-second in the Tigers' best and fairest in her debut season – quickly became a crucial cog for the developing midfield, her height, foot skills and power from stoppages holding her in good stead.
"Ellie has had a really unique injury to her calf, which she has been working through for quite some time and managing carefully with our medical team," Richmond AFLW high performance manager Matt Parker said.
"Ellie has so much football in front of her both this season and beyond, so we have taken a long-term view, and while it is disappointing that she will miss some football, we all understand how important it is we get this right.
"The injury has been a very challenging experience for a 19-year-old to have, but Ellie has dealt with it with excellent maturity and professionalism right throughout the lengthy off-season."
ELLIE MCKENZIE Former No.1 pick freed from pressure ahead of second AFLW season
She isn't the only injury concern at Punt Road, with a number of players sitting out the practice match.
Defender Iilish Ross has been ruled out of the season with a stress fracture in her lower leg, and has been replaced by Beth Lynch.
Recruit Maddie Shevlin (toe) and Akec Makur Chuot (knee) missed the hit-out with "short-term" injuries.
TIGER TIME Ex-Roo joins star brother at Punt Road
Key midfielder Sarah Hosking has a minor quad complaint, while twin Jess Hosking suffered a knock to her shoulder against the Cats and key defender Harriet Cordner was a late withdrawal.
The Tigers leant on train-on player and mid/forward Sophie Locke (Port Melbourne VFLW) and Lynch to boost numbers for the game against Geelong.