Buckley feels for under-fire Hardwick

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley feels for Damien Hardwick as the Richmond mentor cops the brunt of scrutiny following Richmond’s poor start to the AFL season.

The Tigers have recorded one victory from the opening six rounds, their worst start to a season since 2010.

Hardwick signed a contract extension earlier this year, with his new deal running until the end of the 2017 season.

But that hasn’t stopped debate starting to swirl over whether the Tigers need to look at other options.

“You’ve got to have a little bit of empathy for each other and the position you can find yourself in at times,” Buckley told Fox Footy.

“I would anticipate that he would be wearing the weight of the world on his shoulders and taking full responsibility for what’s going on.

“And in the meantime, trying to guide.

“Circle wagons, making sure the troops are looking after one another. Finding a couple of things to hang your hat on and sink your teeth into that really give you a chance to move forward.”

Buckley added the onus was on all of the club’s leaders to soak up the pressure.

“It can be difficult with all the game that gets played around the game,” he said.

“That’s the challenger for the senior leaders. Not just the senior coach but … (chief executive) Brendon Gale, (football manager) Dan Richardson, (captain) Trent Cotchin, et cetera.

“It’s a leadership challenge, a leadership battle.

“That’s something that Richmond are going through at the moment that most clubs do at various times.”

Gale and Richardson both defended Hardwick on Monday, speaking on Melbourne radio stations.

“Damien is a good coach and he’ll only get better,” Gale told 3AW.

“The way they’re playing isn’t reflective on the way they’re coached.

“There’s something lost in translation there and so we’re really keen to address that.

“Those bigger, broader issues around list, there’ll be a time and a place for that, but right now the focus is on getting back and winning.”

Richardson told SEN it was a “terrific achievement” for the Tigers to reach the finals in 2013, given 2010 was Hardwick’s first year in charge.

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