Richmond have backed coach Damien Hardwick to maintain their AFL revival, going ahead with his two-year contract extension.
The Tigers’ confirmation that they will stick with Hardwick until the end of the 2018 season comes a day after Collingwood’s Nathan Buckley signing a one-year extension that locks him until after next season.
It means every coach on a contract is confirmed beyond this season, with Hawthorn’s Alastair Clarkson all but signed to a new deal to the end of 2019.
New Carlton coach Brendon Bolton is on the club staff, rather than holding a contract.
Provided Hardwick serves out his new term – never a certainty for an AFL senior coach – he would have been in charge at Punt Rd for nine years.
He is already Richmond’s third longest-serving coach behind club legends Tom Hafey and Jack Dyer.
While Hardwick has returned the Tigers to the top eight, they have lost three straight elimination finals.
President Peggy O’Neal said they looked hard at whether Hardwick was the right man to take them deeper into the finals as the Tigers chased their first premiership since 1980.
Their run of unsuccessful finals means there is plenty of pressure on Hardwick and his team this season.
“In making this decision, the board considered what Damien has accomplished during his tenure, including the fact he has taken the team to three consecutive finals series,” O’Neal said.
“We also considered whether he was the right man to take us further and, after thorough analysis and discussion, the unanimous view was that Damien is the right man to coach our club.
“Importantly, Damien has the character and values we want in someone who leads our players.
“The players also have great respect for their coach and his approach to getting the best out of them.”
O’Neal also noted Richmond’s determination that their reputation for blood-letting and revolt was consigned to history.
“Stability and unity have been critical to this club’s recent improvement and the board’s view was that a two-year contract extension was both deserved and prudent,” she said.
Hardwick, 43, has coached Richmond for 135 games and has won 66.
“It has always been an honour to coach Richmond and the support that the board provides not just myself, but the entire club, is never taken for granted,” he said.
“The coaching staff and players look forward to the challenge ahead and everyone is working hard to repay the faith the club, and our members and supporters, have shown in us.”