Hardwick keeps the faith after AFL loss

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick knows the challenge is immense, having watched his underperforming side fail to do the basics expected of amateurs.

But Hardwick remains upbeat his AFL side can fight their way out of an early-season slump, as was the case in 2014 and 2015.

The heat was already on Hardwick after an underwhelming start to the season and it proceeded to get hotter as Port Adelaide trumped the Tigers by 35 points on Saturday night.

The upset loss leaves the Tigers, who next face reigning premiers Hawthorn, with one win from the opening six rounds.

Not since 2010, Hardwick’s first season in charge, have Richmond started a season so poorly.

Hardwick called the performance embarrassing, dumb and devoid of dignity.

“We’re missing kicks, missing handballs, missing tackles … simple things that a local football side should be doing, we’re not doing,” he conceded.

But Hardwick added his under-siege side is capable of playing so much better and backed them to turn the corner soon.

“It’s certainly doable. I’ve got great faith in the players we have and the coaches … that we can get back on track,” he said.

“But that first win is the most important.

“The reality is it comes back to me and our coaching staff. We’re the ones that have to drive the message across and make sure it does get across.

“We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas, us (coaches) included.”

The Tigers forced their way into the top eight during the past two seasons after sluggish starts.

The equation is already tougher but Hardwick wouldn’t be drawn on whether Friday night’s match against the Hawks could make or break Richmond’s ever-slimming finals hopes.

“I’ve been thinking each game is season defining at the moment. The competition is so even,” he said.

“We’ve just got to worry about getting the four points.”

Hardwick coached from the boundary line during the third quarter of his side’s loss to the Power.

It failed to have the desired impact but Hardwick will keep trying new things in an effort to spark his charges.

“The easy thing is to rant and rave. The methodical message is what you’ve got to look for to get the boys back on track,” he said.

“We try things at various stages.

“Sometimes it is as easy as just ‘have a day off’. Reality is that doesn’t improve our skill execution.”

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