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Hardwick assures fans Tigers ready for finals

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Preview: Geelong Cats

Peter Hanlon and Jon Pierik preview the Geelong Cats ahead of their 2013 AFL season campaign.

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High expectations at the start of any season go with the territory for the Richmond Football Club. But as the level of anticipation about the Tigers' 2013 continues to rise, this year the club is ready to embrace it.

While many already believe that with the recruitment of more senior talent the Tigers are ready to contest finals for only a third time in 30 years, their impressive start to the NAB Cup has raised the bar again.

Good in the first round, the Tigers were even better against Essendon last week, despite fielding a depleted line-up against a side close to full strength.

Damien Hardwick shares a joke with his players at training.

Damien Hardwick shares a joke with his players at training. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

''Rightly so,'' said coach Damien Hardwick of the Tiger army's high hopes. ''It's our fourth year [under his coaching], we've asked them to hang in for the journey, and the list is to a stage now where we can probably firmly say, 'we've got a list that is capable'.

''We realise we've got a hell of a lot of work to do, but I think we've put our club in a position that's certainly capable of doing it.''

Hardwick lauded the character of his team as an important factor in the side's gradual improvement, epitomised by new captain Trent Cotchin and dual best and fairest Brett Deledio.

''They demand players adhere to the standards and values that we hold dearly as a footy club,'' he said. ''That's something this club has taken on board, and it had to, but no doubt we're in a better place than we were when I started three years ago.''

Saturday brings the best test of the new football year to date with a game at Launceston's Aurora Stadium against last year's runner-up Hawthorn, albeit the Hawks having started the pre-season a lot slower, beaten last week by the Western Bulldogs.

''We've played some pretty solid football,'' Hardwick said. ''We went down by a kick to North Melbourne, when Deledio and Cotchin didn't play in the last quarter, and we've certainly felt we've been in a winning position for every game, so we're looking forward to continuing that trend versus Hawthorn this week.

''It's another really solid contest for us and gives our guys another opportunity to play some good football.''

Richmond has picked a strong squad of 27 for the game, with Cotchin and Deledio - both absent against Essendon - returning, along with No. 1 ruckman Ivan Maric. The Tigers will also unveil another pair of their off-season pick-ups from AFL rivals, former Port Adelaide defender Troy Chaplin and former Essendon midfielder Sam Lonergan.

Hardwick said Chaplin, who has been recovering from knee surgery, would play a half against the Hawks, and the Tigers would appreciate the presence of the experienced key backman.

''He's trained really well now for the last two to three weeks,'' he said. ''He's a very good player with outstanding leadership qualities and will further help guys such as Alex Rance, Ben Griffiths, Jake Batchelor - all those type of players around him - so we're looking forward to him solidifying our back six with his presence.''

First-year players Nick Vlastuin and Matt Arnot are two more young Tigers who have impressed, but Hardwick said Vlastuin, the No.9 pick in last year's national draft, would be rested this week.

''He won't play, but he's certainly doing everything right at this stage,'' he said. ''We've just got to see how it pans out. There's still a couple of games to go and we've got a number of players who will force their way back into the side this week.''

11 comments

  • 9th...

    Commenter
    jaybuoy
    Date and time
    March 08, 2013, 8:29AM
    • Good one Jaybuoy, but 1995 Just called and asked for its joke back

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Mornington
      Date and time
      March 08, 2013, 8:59AM
    • Will they beat the Gold Coast for the first time in Cairns?

      Commenter
      terry
      Date and time
      March 08, 2013, 12:14PM
    • If Jake King continues to play we won't make finals

      Commenter
      gax
      Location
      Woodville
      Date and time
      March 08, 2013, 1:47PM
  • OOOH WE'RE FROM TIGERLAND, A FIGHTING FURY WE'RE FROM TIGERLAND

    Commenter
    Buffett
    Date and time
    March 08, 2013, 9:04AM
    • Rohan, the Tiges might get somewhere this season if they win the first one. Over 4 years the cummulative margin has been 40+ goals....its all a bit of a yawn and then after a round one loss, the season is effectively...over.
      The tiges supporters will say the same about us and yes they could be right.
      Could you have a word to Andrew D. and see if this game can be scrapped or at least moved to the weekend so my easter is not wrecked again.
      Cheers Craig.

      Commenter
      bluebagger from adelaide
      Date and time
      March 08, 2013, 9:06AM
      • It must be easy to write these, just change the year and a few player's names and you can just basically reuse the same Richmond article from 12 months ago.

        Still, with the "goldfish" mentality of most people it probably seems like fresh optimism. Same old same old.......

        Commenter
        DC
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        March 08, 2013, 9:12AM
        • It will all end in tears if Marci gets injured. Cotchin goes down you still have Deledio and Martin etc. Not downplaying the loss of Cotchin but he is not the only midfielder. Maric goes down and that is it for 2013. No plan B.

          Commenter
          Maric
          Date and time
          March 08, 2013, 10:31AM
          • Orren

            Commenter
            ASD
            Date and time
            March 08, 2013, 12:16PM
        • The Tigers will win their first 6 games, get big heads, their supporters will get even bigger heads and then they will revert to type and start losing the next five games and (as usual) start to implode. Then it will be usual cry from "loyal tiger fans" that it's the fault of the coach, the media, Andrew D, etc. This is more certain than Black Caviar winning her next race start.

          Commenter
          Shano
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          March 08, 2013, 2:13PM

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