Richmond coach Damien Hardwick insists the return of star midfielder Brett Deledio won’t guarantee his AFL team a win over Gold Coast on Sunday.
The talismanic Tigers vice-captain has recovered from the flu for the MCG clash and while his team have lost seven of their past nine games without him, it wasn’t a statistic that Hardwick was prepared to dwell on.
“He’s an important player to us there’s no doubt … it’s a stat you can relate to anything and there’s certain other players I’m sure would be the same,” Hardwick said.
“As soon as those 22 blokes step over the line we expect to win every game we play so we can’t isolate it to one player.”
One statistic that did concern Hardwick was his seventh-placed team’s losing record against Gold Coast, winning only one of their previous four encounters, all of which took place in Queensland.
He said that it was “time to get one back”.
However Hardwick said the Suns’ position near the bottom of the ladder wasn’t a true indication of their talent and they were expecting a stiff challenge.
He pointed to their recent draw against West Coast and a solid victory over Brisbane.
“We’re playing an opponent that is playing better than their ladder form suggests,” said Hardwick.
“They have players in their forward half in (Charlie) Dixon and (Tom) Lynch who have kicked 70 goals between them, that are going to be really hard to contain, and then they have a mosquito fleet as well that are really hard to manage.
“They’ve got a winning record against us and we have to make sure we rectify that.”
Hardwick said midfielders Reece Conca (hamstring) and Shane Edwards (leg fracture) could return next week while defender Dylan Grimes may be out for up to three games with his hamstring problem.
The Tigers delivered a disappointing performance in their loss to Adelaide, with their midfield comprehensively outplayed.
But Hardwick said their intensity and work-rate across the ground was the problem with the team smashed in contested ball and clearances.
“We haven’t had a loss (in those areas) of that significance in my time at the club and it’s something that we pride ourselves on,” he said.