The jungle drums reached fever pitch after Richmond’s latest disappointment in an AFL season full of them, but embattled coach Damien Hardwick is quietly going about his business at Punt Road.
The savage reaction to the Tigers’ 88-point mauling by Greater Western Sydney has increased the pressure on Hardwick’s position, with a group of influential members pushing for change at board level.
But a defiant Hardwick told reporters on Thursday that he would not be swayed by outside commentary as he attempts to salvage some positives from the last four games of the season – starting with Friday night’s clash against Collingwood.
“It’s all external noise for us … we’re very focused on what we’re doing here,” Hardwick said.
“We’ve got a fantastic board, a fantastic football department, and we’re working our way to getting us back to where we need to be.
“We have honest and up-front conversations here – we don’t get worried by external noise (because) it is just that. The people that matter are within these four walls.”
The Tigers are languishing in 13th on the ladder with a 7-11 win-loss record, but Hardwick called for perspective, adding the 70-point loss to first-placed Hawthorn two weeks ago and the thumping by the second-placed Giants were a fair reflection of the side’s respective ladder positions.
But while the Tigers have been fighting out of their weight category in the past two weeks, the 12th-placed Magpies present a fairer match-up.
“We play a side that is fairly similar to us this week in Collingwood,” he said.
“They had a good win last week against West Coast so it will be a much more even competition. We’ve played some pretty good sides the last two weeks.
“They’re better than us – there’s no doubt about that. We’ve got some work to do, we understand that, but we play a side that is relatively evenly poised (with us).
“(But) they’re playing better than us at the moment so it will be a good challenge.”