Richmond have set about picking up the pieces after their disastrous AFL loss to North Melbourne, with a defiant Jack Riewoldt throwing his support behind coach Damien Hardwick.
After slumping to their third elimination final loss in the past three seasons, the Tigers are about to embark on yet another long off-season of soul searching.
Hardwick, who kept his players behind closed doors for a fiery debrief after Sunday’s game, will be in the last year of his current contract with the club next season, with another disappointing finals series heightening scrutiny on his tenure.
“In regards to the meeting yesterday … look, he cares about the footy club,” Riewoldt said on Monday.
“The coach that I want to play for is the guy that cares deep down about this group, the football club, its fans, its supporters, its members and everyone that’s involved in the Richmond Football Club.
“So I would have been disappointed if he wasn’t angry because I was. I was frustrated, I was disappointed, I was angry after the game.”
Adding to that hurt is the manner in which Richmond entered this year’s finals.
Hardwick admitted his side probably fell into last year’s finals series, where they were swiftly bundled out by Port Adelaide, but the Tigers locked up sixth spot this season on the back of more-rounded, harder-edged performances that yielded wins over top sides like Fremantle, Hawthorn and Sydney.
“The players are hurting as much as anybody at the moment,” Riewoldt said.
“We’re really disappointed in ourselves and we know that we’ve let ourselves down, we’ve let the club down and we’ve let the members down but I can promise that the players will come back fitter than ever and ready to go again.
“We’ve got a super inner belief in this group … I really believe that this football club is going in the right direction.
“Success comes to those who keep trying.”