'All of a sudden they've got no run in the midfield. They've got plodders in there who aren't fast.' Photo: Pat Scala
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has slammed the Tigers' performance against Essendon as completely unacceptable, while former Richmond star Nathan Brown labelled it the worst defeat of Hardwick's five years in charge.
Hardwick said Saturday's insipid 50-point defeat was a damning indication of the club's current plight.
"It's one thing to handle losing contested possessions but to lose contested tackles [is an] indication of work rate and that's unacceptable," said Hardwick on 3AW.
"We're just going to have to find some players willing to play the Richmond way, because at the moment we're a long way short."
When asked what the "Richmond way" actually is, Hardwick simply said: "Winning games".
Hardwick's eye-watering spray to his players immediately after the match at the MCG was audible in the rooms and he did not mince his words in the subsequent media conference.
"When you dish up that sort of performance, it's to be expected," he said. "We're a really mediocre football side. "You get belted in contested ball, you get belted in tackles, you're a fair chance to expect a spray at the end of the game.
"Every now and then you give one, mate. Like I said, the performance validated it."
The Tigers have little respite in the next three weeks, with North Melbourne, Fremantle and a rampant Sydney next in line, and the real prospect of being 3-10 looming large.
Hardwick deflected any questions about being out of finals contention, instead emphasising that regaining respect was highest on the agenda.
"We're all in the together, we've just got to make sure we work our backsides off. We've got to get some respectability back," he said. "We've got to get our boys playing the way we know we can. We've got to go back to the drawing board and fix it."
Hardwick admitted "the buck stops with me" but put his team on notice, warning he would be looking to players who "can add some value going forward".
Former Richmond forward Nathan Brown joined the growing chorus of concern about the club's inability to reverse its season-long slump. He told Channel Nine's Sunday Footy Show it was the club's worst loss under Hardwick's leadership.
"They were lacklustre. They didn't put any pressure on the Bombers, [Hardwick] would be absolutely devastated with how his players performed," he said.
The performance, which was the Tigers' opportunity to continue the momentum they created against their 113-win against the Giants in round 10, bordered on "embarrassing", Brown said.
"In the five years Damien Hardwick has coached them, they had 100-point losses here and there in the early days," he said.
"But this is the worst loss under his coaching tenure.
"They had 27 less inside-50s, they should have been beaten by 100 points and it was bordering on embarrassing."
Brown picked out speed in the middle as one of the big issues.
"The two preceding years their movement of the ball was so quick they caught sides off guard and were able to get Jack Riewoldt one on one," he said.
"All of a sudden they've got no run in the midfield. They've got plodders in there."