Richmond coach Damien Hardwick admits the scale of last Friday’s AFL loss to North Melbourne rocked the club.
Hardwick’s own belief in the team is being tested as the Tigers navigate a tough season.
After going a long way to putting their year back on track with three-straight wins, the Tigers were woeful in Hobart and North took them apart by 70 points.
They also suffered several injuries, with Steve Morris needing a knee reconstruction and out for 12 months.
“It’s amazing how you can win three games, lose one the way we lost and feel like the whole world is caving in,” Hardwick said.
“From a perspective inside our building, it was a little bit the same – really disappointed in our performance.
“Injuries were no excuse, we were by far out of the contest.
“Initially, North’s onslaught was outstanding … they’re the best side we’ve played this year, by far.”
Richmond are now dangling off the cliff at 4-7 halfway through season, three games out of the top eight.
They can still make their fourth-straight finals campaign, but a lot must go right and they must beat Gold Coast this Sunday at the MCG.
“There’s been a lot of talk, we just have to make sure we put that talk into action because we were really embarrassed with our performance last week,” Hardwick said.
The Tigers had expected a lot better from this season and Hardwick admits it has unsettled him.
“It (his belief) gets shaken every game … you ask any senior coach after a loss, it’s lonely,” Hardwick said.
“When you become accustomed to winning a lot of games, it becomes harder to lose.
“We have incredible faith in our coaches, our playing group, our club as a whole, but we’ve been underperforming this year.”
Reece Conca is ready for his first senior game this season, while ruckman Ivan Maric could also return.
Hardwick said it was unclear whether other players hurt in the North match would play against the Suns.
“The other guys are putting up their hands at this stage, but we’ll wait and see how that goes with Thursday training,” Hardwick said.
The Tigers coach said inconsistent form, rather than the demographics of their list, has hurt them so far this year.
“We still have incredible faith in the group we have here,” he said.
“It is a little bit transitional, but we know our best footy is capable of beating any side in the competition.
“Unfortunately, the inconsistency we’ve seen this year, we’re capable of getting beaten by any side in the competition as well.
“The measure of a great footy club is when you’re playing poorly, that you can still win the game – unfortunately when we play poorly, we’re getting beaten quite handsomely.”