Frustrated Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has slammed persistent media speculation over Alex Rance’s future and called on the AFL to act.
The Tigers’ coach responded to questions on Rance’s future on Thursday morning after fresh reports that the Brisbane Lions were preparing a big money offer for the All-Australian defender, who is a free agent at season’s end.
His scheduled weekly press conference turned fiery when asked repeatedly about how speculation over Rance’s contract status had affected the club, with the coach abruptly leaving the room when the line of questioning continued.
Earlier, Hardwick called for the introduction of a rule similar to one adopted by the National Football League in the United States, where clubs can be fined for talking about recruiting players from other clubs.
“Other clubs shouldn’t be talking about Eddie Betts, Alex Rance, Patrick Dangerfield (or) Rory Sloane,” Hardwick said.
“It’s inappropriate as far as I’m concerned and it’s something the AFL needs to act on because it creates an industry where it creates an easy media article to write.
“From our point of view there’s a trade period and a free agency period at the end of the year and that’s where all this should be taken care of.
“It’s just ridiculous, we’re talking about contracted players, and we shouldn’t be able to make comment about wanting players to come to our footy club.
“Absolutely, it shouldn’t be done,” replied Hardwick, when asked if he felt such speculation affected football clubs.
But he wouldn’t be drawn on what impact the Rance situation was having at Punt Road.
While facing a fight to retain Rance, the Tigers have been linked to Geelong speedster Steven Motlop, who is also out of contract at the end of the season.
Club CEO Brendon Gale said like every other club they would try to improve their list.
“We’re a reasonable footy team when we’re up and going, but we’ve got work to do, and we can definitely better our list over the next few years,” Gale said on SEN radio, when asked about Richmond’s intentions with regard to Motlop.
“We’ll be looking at all opportunities to improve our list like every other club.”
Gale also remains confident Rance will sign a new deal with the Tigers.
“We know that money isn’t a major motivating factor for him, but having said that, we’ve got a very competitive offer to put to Alex that will be reflective of his status.
“I’m confident we’re tracking in the right direction.”