Damien Hardwick defended Trent Cotchin after Richmond’s rapidly-evaporating finals hopes were dashed further as they capitulated late against Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday.
The back-to-back reigning premiers will finish the round 12th on the ladder after coughing up a 29-point third-quarter lead to lose to the Magpies by 16 points. And the challenges keep coming for the Tigers, who premiership coach Hardwick said are unlikely to regain any of their injured core for Friday night’s clash with Brisbane at the MCG.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick speaks to his players during clash with Collingwood.Credit:Getty Images
But Hardwick maintained that the Tigers had not given up on their chances of making the finals for what would be the eighth time in nine seasons.
“Whilst there’s a pulse there’s always a chance, so we’ll just continue to build on our brand and invest in some generation next kids that are coming through and see how they go,” Hardwick said.
Richmond are dealing with a mountainous injury list, with premiership heroes Nathan Broad, Shane Edwards, Bachar Houli, Kane Lambert, Toby Nankervis, Dion Prestia, Ivan Soldo and Nick Vlastuin all sidelined. None are expected to be available for the Brisbane clash.
“I’m not sure we’ll get anyone back at this stage,” Hardwick said.
“They’re all probably doubtful. It is what it is. We lick our wounds and we give guys another opportunity.
“We’ve just got to dig in and try to get some wins on the board.
“See my head? There’s a dent in it from headbutting a brick wall at the moment.
“We’ve had injuries but the guys have come back. It’s been challenging.
“We’re all about the journey at our footy club. We’ve had an incredible journey over the last four or five years, but we’re still looking forward to the journey we’ve got ahead of us.”
Hardwick said injuries explained part of his team’s decline, but not all of the story.
“That’s part of it, we’d still like to be playing a little bit better,” he said.
Fringe big man Mabior Chol played out Sunday’s game with a rolled ankle.
Cotchin, 31, finished with just 13 disposals against the Pies with Hardwick acknowledging that the modern game was presenting the Tigers skipper with challenges.
Trent Cotchin and Taylor Adams test the durability of each other’s jumpers out. Credit:Getty Images
“I’d love to manage him, to be honest,” he said.
“He’s a battering ram. He’s played like that for 15 years at the highest level. The game has changed, there’s no doubt about that. It is more uncontested marks, we’re seeing a lot of it at the moment.
“There’s not a lot of stoppage, contest-type things that are his strengths.
“We sort of have spoken about moving into a different position, but we need him to play midfield at the moment.”
But Hardwick said Cotchin’s ability to guide youngsters like Thomson Dow and Riley Collier-Dawkins was invaluable.
“People look at the stats sheet, but what Trent brings you can’t measure.”
Interim Pies coach Robert Harvey said he was glad his players had been rewarded for their effort.
“[I’m] pretty happy – it’s a good result,” Harvey said.
“They work so hard. To finish how they did, for the boys to get over the top was a really good effort.”
Young tall Will Kelly (quad) was substituted from the game and is likely to miss some weeks.
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