Richmond might be within sight of a Lazarus-style finals berth, but coach Damien Hardwick said you wouldn’t know it from inside the club’s walls.
Having strung together six consecutive victories to give themselves a legitimate chance of September action, the Tigers head to Adelaide for a Saturday night stoush with seventh-placed Adelaide – another of the side’s clambering for a finals spot.
But Hardwick said the mood at Punt Road was no different to what it had been at the club’s June nadir, when the Tigers were languishing in 16th spot on the ladder.
“We don’t ride emotional roller-coasters,” he said. “Week in, week out we’ve got our due diligence that we go through and nothing really changes in that area of our preparation.
“From that point of view it’s just go about our business and make sure we train well, get the game played on our terms and the result will take care of itself. But it’s going to be a real challenge going over there to Adelaide.”
Hardwick said he was proud of his side’s ability to turn around its season.
“Our boys have dug deep. We were out on our feet at 3-10 and playing some disappointing footy for various reasons, but the guys have managed to find something, to dig deep and get their season back on track.”
Sitting 12th, just a game and percentage off eighth-placed Essendon, Richmond’s fate appears to remain in its own hands. The final three rounds of the season bring two trips interstate, with the Adelaide assignment amplified by a last-round clash with Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
Those games are split by a home match against St Kilda.
Richmond is not fazed by having to play away from Victoria, having won seven of nine matches interstate since the start of 2013, including a win against West Coast in Perth three weeks ago that looks increasingly impressive given the Eagles’ strong form since.
Hardwick agreed the Tigers had no issues playing interstate. “One thing it does, it solidifies the boys when you go interstate; guys enjoy each other’s company and get the job done, no better win than interstate.”
He also suggested the returns of key playmakers from early-season injuries had assisted the team’s ability to win contested ball – an area that Hardwick identified as an Achilles heel earlier in the year.
“It’s no coincidence with the addition of [Ivan] Maric, [Alex] Rance and [Brett] Deledio that these things start to improve. Dan Jackson’s still to come back into the side, but Anthony Miles comes in in that area, which takes the pressure off [Trent] Cotchin.”
Reigning best and fairest winner Jackson will play three quarters in the VFL this weekend on the comeback trail from injury.
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