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An incredible year for Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has taken a sad twist after news the 48-year-old has split with his wife Danielle.
Hardwick helped steer the Tigers to a third AFL premiership in four seasons in 2020 but his personal life took an unfortunate turn, as reported by the Herald Sun.
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The sad news comes weeks after Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and his wife Tania announced that their 18-year marriage had come to an end.
Hardwick and his wife have three children together - Ben, Isabelle and Imogen.
Danielle has been an influential figure in Hardwick's life, with the coach often referring to her as "Mrs Hardwick" in press conferences and admitting that she frequently gives him advice about his team.
After winning this year's grand final against Geelong, Hardwick spoke of the heavy toll that 2020 had taken on him, although the reasons for his marriage split are unclear.
“I’m going to take a bit of a longer break this year over summer,” Hardwick told 3AW.
“It’s been a pretty full on 3-4 years and we’ve done a hell of a lot of work and had a lot of success along the way but sometimes you need to step back.”
Hardwick and his wife starting dating in the 1990s while he was playing for Essendon and moved with their children to Adelaide before the 2002 season.
Wife an influential force for Tigers coach
The family ended back up in Victoria when Hardwick was given a coaching apprenticeship with Hawthorn, before landing the head coaching role at Richmond in 2009.
In just over a decade since taking the role, Hardwick has turned the Tigers into the dominant force in the AFL.
Despite his incredible success, the master coach has revealed that his wife would often provide input on his team selections.
One such example came before the 2019 grand final, when Hardwick was torn about whether or not to hand Marlion Pickett his debut in the decider.
He revealed that his wife may have played an influential role in the midfielder's selection.
“She goes, ‘You’ve just got to play him he’s too good’. She was in the VFL coaches box watching me and she kept smiling at me looking at him as he was playing," he said.
“She’s been a terrific supporter of mine and behind every man is a great woman and I’m very fortunate.”
Hardwick had a habit of referring to Danielle as "Mrs Hardwick" in press conferences and admitted earlier in the year - after a dour win against the Swans saw him criticise Sydney's tactics - that his wife also let him know when he was in the wrong.
“(Mrs Hardwick) wasn’t overly happy with the press conference. She gave me a dressing down after it. That was a good result," he said at the time.
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