Brisbane Lions vs Richmond
Brisbane Lions vs Richmond

Hardwick takes back Marvel ‘hate’

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick believes the “solid gems” he has found among the young talent on his list will keep his team in the hunt to launch another premiership tilt when his injured stars return.

Once again the Tigers will be without captain Trent Cotchin (hamstring), young gun Shai Bolton (wrist), veteran Shane Edwards (ankle), midfielder Dion Prestia (calf) and forward Kane Lambert (calf) for Friday’s massive clash with Brisbane.

It’s the first time Richmond returns to the Gabba since last year’s grand final win over Geelong, and a place where Hardwick said his team had some “good memories”.

But this time it will be emerging Tigers like Hugo Ralphsmith, Riley Collier-Dawkins and Rhyan Mansell leading the Richmond charge.

“It’s a good opportunity for those young boys that stood up on the weekend to have another opportunity against a really good Brisbane side,” Hardwick said on Wednesday.

“It still keeps us in the hunt, which is really important this time of year. Once we get that more experienced talent back in the side it’s only going to hold us in good stead.

“The positive for us is we’ve found some players.

“Riley Collier-Dawkins was terrific again last week, Hugo Ralphsmith showed he’s going to be a player of the future. Mansell has been terrific ever since he came into the side.

“It’s been a little bit of a painful ride along the way, but the fact of the matter is we’ve found some really solid gems out of it as well.”

The Lions took full advantage of playing on their home ground when the teams last met, winning last year’s qualifying final by 15 points.

Hardwick’s memories of that game, which was a small hiccup on to the way to grand final glory, were of his team’s poor discipline, which he won’t allow this time.

“They beat us by three goals last year, discipline was a big area in that part of the game we let ourselves down in,” he said.

“We gave away four 50m penalties (for) goals and the game was decided by three goals.

“We know when we play our best footy it’s on the edge, but we have to make sure we don’t give away free kicks that give the opposition easy goals.”

Despite declaring last week that he “hated” Marvel Stadium, Hardwick softened his stance and said he was more than happy to travel to the Gabba.

“Hate was a very strong word. I moved on pretty quickly,” he said.

“End of the day, our players will play anywhere, that’s the reality. We love going to Optus Stadium, we love going to Port Adelaide, love going back to the Gabba. It’s got fond memories for us.”

Originally published as Hardwick takes back Marvel ‘hate’