Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale. Photo: Paul Rovere
Richmond chief Brendon Gale has backed coach Damien Hardwick to follow through on his undertaking to punish key players for their mediocre performances this season via the selection table.
But Gale has denied any plans to initiate a lengthy in-depth review of the Tigers' football operation and coaching personnel stating that the club's focus must sit on its players.
"At the moment we are in a forensic examination of every aspect of the footy program," said Gale, who admitted Saturday night's performance against Essendon had come as a shock to him. "We are hell bent on understanding why the team is not performing.
"But we are not initiating a full-scale review with a start date and a stop date. If we are required to have a deeper look at something then we will, but we don't believe what is taking place is a coaching issue."
Gale agreed the time had come to make tough decisions on consistent non-performers and fast-track an examination of the character and form of the Tigers' inexperienced players.
"Clearly that's going to be a factor going forward," he said. "It's in the mix to try to find out a lot more about them now than do it this time next year."
With the Tigers staring legitimately at a finish as low as 18th, the 2014 national draft looms as the least compromised in four years.
With Daniel Jackson (soreness) unlikely to line up against North and Shaun Grigg also expected to miss through injury, Bachar Houli remains another out-of-form Tiger under pressure to retain his spot. Anthony Miles is due for promotion and Sam Lloyd could also return to the seniors after being dropped two weeks ago.
Hardwick told 3AW on Sunday: "We're just going to have to find some players who are willing to put up their hand and play the Richmond way because at the moment we're a long way short."
While the club denied it was the first time the coach had done so, Hardwick delivered a blistering rebuke to the Tigers following their effortless performance on Saturday night in front of more than 75,000 at the MCG.
Having eradicated the club's debt and overseen seven-figure profits, the CEO agreed that poor form would eventually effect the business, but refused to link Richmond's dismal year with its ability to bid for more blockbuster games in 2015.
And Gale refused to point the finger at the Tigers' coaching or fitness personnel. He also denied the club's late 2013 off-field disciplinary issues involving Jake King and Dustin Martin had undermined the authority of Hardwick and his coaching panel.
"No I don't. Jake's a great leader of our football club as strange as people might think that sounds," said the frustrated chief executive. "He's very selfless individual and ruthless about his commitment to the team."