KNOWN as one of the AFL's most fearless players, GIANTS star Callan Ward has praised teammate Lachie Whitfield's toughness as the dashing defender recovers from a bruised liver.
The two-time GIANTS best and fairest suffered the freak injury during game simulation earlier this month.
Ward said Whitfield should be right to resume full-contact training in "two-to-three weeks".
But former GIANTS skipper Ward believes the former No.1 draft pick's courage is understated across the league.
"(Whitfield) is known for being a really good athlete and a good runner; he's lightly built, but he's so tough," Ward told reporters.
"I'd say he's one of my toughest teammates. I've always loved the way he backs back into packs.
"We were just doing some light match stuff and he backed into a back and someone put a knee straight through his ribs.
"He got back up and continued training the whole session and then didn't realise it was really sore until that night when he was sleeping."
While Whitfield is hopeful of being right to play in the season-opening clash with St Kilda on March 21, recruit Braydon Preuss is definitely out.
The towering ruckman, who arrived at GIANTS from Melbourne in the off-season, was set for a breakout season in an area where the GIANTS have recently struggled.
"It's been really fun training with (Preuss) and to see how hard he actually works so it's unfortunate he's now hurt his shoulder," Ward said.
But it leaves the door open for veteran big Shane Mumford, who retired in 2017 before returning to GIANTS in 2019, to add to his 201 AFL games.