Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says the Tigers’ season has been a kick in the backside after their miserable 2016 campaign ended with the biggest AFL loss of his seven-year tenure.
The gulf between the minor premiership-winning Sydney and the 13th-placed Tigers was painfully obvious at the SCG on Saturday night, when Richmond’s season finished with a 113-point loss.
It was their first three-digit defeat in five years and their heaviest loss since a 157-point caning by Geelong nine years ago.
“You look at any sporting club, any organisation, there’s always a kick in the backside at some stage and this is our kick in the backside,” Hardwick said.
“The important thing for us is what we learn from this year, from a coaching point of view, from a playing list point of view, from a football club point of view.
“It’s going to be a big off-season for us.
“We’ve got to improve our list, improve our talent, there’s no doubt about that.”
While expecting Richmond will be active in the trade period, Hardwick was reluctant to lose any of the handful of top-quality players at the club.
“We don’t have a lot of really, really good players, so those players as far, as I’m concerned, will be staying,” Hardwick said.
He doubted Saturday’s massive loss would discourage potential recruits, saying they would understand the Tigers’ emphasis on giving younger players a chance.
Hardwick conceded some of the youngsters were not ready.
Among them was Sudanese-born Mabior Chol, who became the eighth Tigers debutant of the year when he was pitched into battle against a rampant Sydney side.
“But it’s going to be a good stepping stone for Mabs to actually understand what it takes to play the rigours of AFL footy, and that was the whole exercise going forward,” Hardwick said.