Richmond captain Trent Cotchin has thrown his support behind under-siege coach Damien Hardwick, saying players at the AFL club must lift.
The Tigers are reeling from arguably their most inept performance under Hardwick, an embarrassing 88-point loss to Greater Western Sydney in which they kicked only three goals.
Richmond’s 3.5 (23) was the club’s lowest score in a VFL/AFL match since 1961.
Club icon Kevin Bartlett labelled it pathetic, while former forward Matthew Richardson called for a review of the Tigers’ football department.
Cotchin, speaking a day after club chief executive Brendon Gale declared there would be no change of coach for 2017, called Hardwick a “fantastic person”.
“He will wear most of (the criticism) on his shoulders because that’s the kind of person he is,” Cotchin told reporters on Monday.
“But the reality is we need to be better as a playing group.
“We’re doing everything we can.
“There’s obviously a lot of work for us to do.
“The challenge for us is that we’ve still got four weeks of the season to turn around our form.”
Cotchin added that Hardwick had a good relationship with Richmond players, who will be under the pump to deliver against Collingwood on Friday night.
“Absolutely. There’s no questions about that and there never will be,” he said.
Likewise, he wasn’t worried about pundits calling for Hardwick to be sacked.
“I couldn’t really care less what people are talking about outside our four walls,” the midfielder said.
“I know the media play a part in our game .. but they don’t play a part inside our club.”
Hardwick signed a two-year contract extension before the start of the 2016 season, which ties him to Punt Road Oval until the end of the Tigers’ 2018 campaign.
Richmond have bowed out at the elimination final stage of the past three seasons.
They are no chance of reaching this year’s finals and sit 13th on the ladder with a 7-11 record.