GIANTS star Josh Kelly is back, and his coach couldn't be happier.

After two years of battling groin and hip issues, a full summer of training injury-free has Kelly in prime physical condition, and he rounded off his pre-season with a sublime best-on-ground performance against Richmond.

The 25-year-old had a game-high 34 touches against the Tigers in the GIANTS' tough 14-point win in their last Marsh Community Series clash in Wagga Wagga, but it wasn't just his numbers that impressed Leon Cameron.

In a hot first half, Kelly's poise and exquisite skills under pressure gave the competition a reminder of the talent that saw him win the GIANTS club champion award and make the Virgin Australia All Australian team in 2017.

"The last couple of years his groins have really disturbed him," Cameron said post-match.

"I thought his first half in particular was really good, his use with his hands and his decision-making was spot on.

"It's great having him in there, whether he's playing inside or on a wing, it gives us so much flexibility. 

"He's looking like he's in for a really strong year."

Cameron was also full of praise for his younger brigade, and the coach knows picking his best 22 for the GIANTS' round one clash with Geelong is going to be extremely difficult.

"Clearly some of the kids are really putting their hands up," Cameron said.

"Lachie Ash, Tom Green, Jackson Hately and Isaac Cumming are playing some really good footy, so they're going to give us a lot to think about which is great at this time of year.

"We were willing to get some good game time into them and see how they stood up against Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin and Dion Prestia and the like, and they're clearly an outstanding unit."

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick also sent a message to the rest of the league, declaring his side is still working into top form ahead of their traditional round one match against Carlton.

"We've got some things that are working really well and then there's some things that we've still got work to do (on)," he said after the loss. 

"We're playing some reasonably solid footy without being at our very best, and we know that hard work is still to come.

"It was up and back, both sides were transitioning really well, but they weren't defending very well, so we've got some work to do in that area.

"We'll look at our defensive system, because obviously we don't want to be playing 'kick and catch' in the back half, so we'll tighten the screws with regards to that. 

"It's exciting for us, we know we're not playing our very best footy."