Tigers can buck AFL history: Hardwick

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick knows history is against him.


On the eve of Saturday’s grand final against Adelaide, Hardwick still isn’t sure if his Tigers are trend-setters or a curiosity.

Hardwick says his predominantly pint-sized team goes against the history of AFL premiership sides.

“The common theme of AFL premiership sides is the way they’re built,” Hardwick told reporters on Friday.

“You know, strong centre-half back, strong centre-half forward, key full-forward.

“But the game evolves. Whether we’re ahead of the curve, the proof will be in the pudding about 5pm (Saturday).”

When Hardwick looked at his squad list preseason, he knew he had no choice but to shun history and craft a radical forward line.

Ongoing concussion issues which sidelined ruck-forward Ben Griffiths for most of the year only confirmed it.

Hardwick didn’t have the big bullocking attackers that most premiership teams field, so he had to think small.

Richmond’s attack against the Crows will boast just one tall forward, Jack Riewoldt. The rest are fleet-footed, pressure-packed smalls.

“We have found a formula and it has worked for us,” Hardwick said.

“Yeah, we’re small. We’re young up forward.

“But these are the things that we have had for five to six weeks now and it has worked for us. So we continue to back our boys in.”

Adelaide coach Don Pyke conceded Richmond’s unusual attacking structure posed him questions – but he had the answers.

“It’s working for them, with their one tall and some other guys,” Pyke told reporters on Friday.

“They have got a number of guys who are not small necessarily, they’re medium-sized and they’re still more than capable of catching it down there.

“That has worked for Richmond and clearly that is how they’re going into the game.

“So we plan for it, we prepare for it. And we think we have got the right way to go about a, nullifying, and b, getting an advantage.”

Pyke cleared ex-basketballer Hugh Greenwood, suspected to be carrying a calf injury, to play in the premiership decider after a light training run at the MCG on Friday morning.

In contrast to Adelaide’s session held behind locked gates, the Tigers fine-tuned for their first grand final since 1982 before 5000 raucous fans at their Punt Road Oval base.

And Hardwick was bullish about his young team coping with the hype.

“The one thing about youth is they embrace whatever you throw at them,” he said.

“It’s like a young child learning to ride a bike. They fall over, they get back up and they go again.

“If you have been around for a long period of time, fear becomes a factor. Young kids don’t have that.”