AFL greats Kane Cornes and David King have questioned why Damien Hardwick let rip at the media with a bizarre statement amid Hawthorn's struggles. The Tigers are in unfamiliar ladder territory, just two spots ahead of last-placed West Coast who they face on Saturday afternoon at the MCG.
Richmond have banked just the one win and a draw from seven rounds and are on a five-game losing streak - representing the worst start since Hardwick's first year in 2010. And Hardwick admitted he felt for the supporters after Richmond's last game.
"I do - it was just one of those games where we just couldn't seem to get anything to go or anything to work and our players felt it as well," Hardwick said on Thursday of their last game.
"I was probably like all our supporters in our organisation, feeling incredibly flat and frustrated about where we're at but once I sit down in the cold hard light of day, review the tape and work through a few things I feel a hell of a lot better."
However, Hardwick wasn't impressed with the line of questioning surrounding him and the players after the tough start to the season. The veteran coach hit back when a reporter asked him about the playing group.
"It's their narratives," he said to reporters. "That's the reality, it's easy to sit there and say those comments when they're sitting behind a desk - come and say it to my face."
These comments didn't sit well with Cornes. Speaking to SEN radio, Cornes said Hardwick's remarks have come out of nowhere. “I’m not sure what he gains by saying that,” Cornes said.
“It’s a mistake for him to do that, because even if you did say it to his face, I mean, what, what’s he going to do? He’s not going to punch you.
“There’s nothing an AFL coach is going to do if you say it to his face. So that was a mistake from him. But it was also a mistake from the journalist to ask and probably a mistake from the Richmond media department not to brief him accurately, because no-one actually said that he’s lost the players.”
David King defends Damien Hardwick over comments
While Cornes was a little critical of Hardwick, King said the embattled coach was put in a hard spot over the comments.
“In fairness to him though he was asked a question alluding to the fact that someone had said that,” King said. “It’s not up to him to be across everything.”
While Richmond face an unfamiliar situation on the ladder, Hardwick isn't too worried. The veteran coach said he feels the team can turn around their woes, as they did back in 2014 when they were two and five but strung together nine wins at the back-end to make the finals.
"Our list is well and truly capable - many people go, 'You're kidding yourself' but I've got incredible belief in this group of players," he said.
"We're not anywhere near where we need to be, but I certainly think we're capable when we get our game up and going and we get some players back into the side." Hardwick said exciting youngster Josh Gibcus (hamstring) and fellow defender Robbie Tarrant (hip) could play a half in the VFL next week.
Captain Trent Cotchin will also miss this weekend's game against West Coast. He added that co-captain and ruckman Toby Nankervis (ankle) had started running again and could return in two to three games, while key forward Tom Lynch (foot) was out of his moon boot.
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