Richmond Tigers are not giving up on AFL final dream, says coach Damien Hardwick
Richmond’s hopes for a three-turf AFL premier seem to have been shot, but coach Damien Hardwick isn’t ready to put the cue in the rack just yet.
With superstar Dustin Martin (torn kidney) already sidelined for the remainder of the season, a comprehensive 38-point defeat to Geelong on Sunday was the final blow to the Tigers’ hopes in the final.
They were due to fly to Perth on Sunday evening to spend a week in quarantine at Joondalup Resort, before having a crunch collision with Fremantle at Optus Stadium on lap 20.
Richmond’s hopes for a three-turf AFL premier seem to have been shot, but coach Damien Hardwick (pictured July 25) isn’t ready to put the cue in the rack just yet
Dion Prestia (hamstring) is a likely shot against the Dockers and Nathan Broad (ankle) is an outside chance to return.
Hardwick said he will not try to rest older players or experiment further with his team, but instead hold the throttle while finals remain a possibility.
‘We push through and persevere, that’s what our club does. We’re not putting up the flag,” Hardwick said.
“We still have a mathematical chance to make it to the final and we’ll get Dion back, Broady at some point, Nick Vlastuin possibly the week after.
“We’re giving ourselves a chance to get some troops back into the park and give it a shot. We will continue to do our best.’
With superstar Dustin Martin (pictured July 17) already sidelined for the remainder of the season with a ruptured kidney, a comprehensive 38-point defeat to Geelong on Sunday was the final blow to the Tigers’ hopes in the final.
Richmond has consistently overcome challenges in a golden era that has harvested three flags in four seasons.
They have winable matches against Fremantle, North Melbourne, GWS and Hawthorn in the run home.
But to climb the mountain again from here, with so many premiership stars missing big chunks of football and the losses piling up, would take something special.
“It’s pretty easy to give up, but the tough clubs will keep going and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Hardwick.
“We will continue to push as hard as we can for our fans, our players, our families and our organization until that flame is extinguished.
“It is a huge challenge, but there is no doubt that we are ready.
“We’ve been in challenging situations before and this is one of those. It’s a benchmark for us, so we’ll see how we go.”
Richmond also hopes to recover wingman Kamdyn McIntosh from a hamstring injury before the end of the home and away season.