Hardwick, Cameron salute Walsh

Phil Walsh’s coaching legacy will never be forgotten, according to one of his 2004 Port Adelaide premiership players Damien Hardwick.

The third game of an indelibly stained round of AFL took place on Saturday at the MCG in the shadow of Walsh’s murder.

Just like on Friday night, there were no banners, no songs and a well-respected minute’s silence.

The Richmond and Greater Western Sydney clash was played with a ferocious intent but, at match’s end, all players linked arms in a centre-circle tribute to the fallen coach.

While Walsh played 40 games for the Tigers in the 1980s, his greatest impact at the club might be happening now.

Hardwick and assistants, Mark Williams and Brendon Lade, were all a part of Port’s 2004 triumph alongside Walsh.

Speaking after Richmond’s nine-point win on Saturday, Hardwick paid tribute to Walsh, saying he had contributed to a strong “Port Adelaide flavour” at Punt Road.

“The football world has an enormous amount of respect for Phil Walsh,” Hardwick said.

“When I was at Port Adelaide, he was doing things back in 2002, 2003, 2004 that we’re still doing now but he didn’t have the stats packages.

“He was an outstanding football brain; innovation could have been his middle name.

“What he has done for the game, I think, from a coaching point of view, can never be undone.”

Richmond president Peggy O’Neal spoke before the match about football’s capacity to help people with their grieving process.

“When tragedy occurs, the football community rallies to support those affected,” she said.

“Today, we’ll play football … but let’s think about how many lives are touched by this sport and how much joy and comfort this sport and its people can provide in dark times.”

Beaten coach Leon Cameron said hearing the news on Friday morning from Giants assistant Chad Cornes floored him.

“We didn’t actually know whether it was real or not,” he said.

“You just sit there and stare at the walls for a little bit.

“I some spent some really good time with him this year being a senior coach. His passion for the game was obviously enormous.”

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