It is the company line Richmond Tigers’ Coach Damien Hardwick was espousing when he said that his club would not suffer the same fate as befell 2016 premiers Western Bulldogs, who dropped out of the final eight in the 2017 Toyota AFL Premiership competition.
Hopefully, for his sake and the Tigers supporters’ sake, Hardwick’s prognostication is more accurate than that of many coaches in many leagues over the years who have seen essentially the same club win it all one year, only to be dashed on the rocks the next.
Salary cap rules and the business nature of sports often see players from successful clubs price themselves out of the market with the club they are on, or bolt to the lower ranked clubs that have money available for lucrative contracts.
This is why it is so difficult to build championship dynasties these days, which makes what the Hawthorn Hawks were able to do a few years back all the more remarkable.
Interviewed on the Hen House podcast, Hardwick expressed more than a little bravado, mixed in with a dose of braggadocio.
“There are always going to be those comparisons … and there’s no doubt we will learn some things from the Bulldogs and their demise.”
“But there are some things that will hold us in good stead. “We’ve got Trent (Cotchin), Jack (Riewoldt) and Alex (Rance) who are seasoned campaigners … they’ll crack the whip pretty strong.”
Objective observers who bear no ill will toward the Tigers can only hope that one of the whips that cracks in not actually the hamstring of Richmond’s big three.
Hardwick also fired a shot across the bow of his current list, mentioning the up-and-comers on the Tigers’ VFL club.
‘You know what boys? If you want to take it easy, I’ve got replacements ready to go’,” the coach said.
He then went straightaway into the oft-employed coach-speak.
“We’re really excited about (next) year but the fact of the matter is we’ve got to stay hungry and hunt the opposition as we did this year,” he said.
Nice tiger metaphor there, coach.