'He'll be with us': Shane Tuck tragedy looms large over GF rematch

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Pictured left is former Tigers player Shane Tuck Richmond coach Damien Hardwick on the right.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick wants his side to celebrate Shane Tuck's life on Friday night. Pic: Getty

Richmond will have memories of Shane Tuck at the forefront of their minds when tackling GWS in Friday night's AFL grand-final rematch.

The death of Tuck at age 38 has devastated the AFL community and shocked many, including former coach Damien Hardwick.

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Hardwick, speaking on the eve of the Tigers' clash at Giants Stadium, remembered his former charge as being "one of those players that as soon as you saw, you just automatically smiled".

"We look forward to at some stage celebrating his life and what a great Richmond man he was," Hardwick told reporters.

"He'll certainly be with us on the weekend and we'll be doing it a little bit for Shane.

"It was obviously quite a shock. We spoke about it as as a group at length - and the things that people battle through. Unfortunately Shane wasn't coping too well.

"Our condolences to the Tuck family ... we'll be there for them as much as we can."

The Tigers will don black armbands on Friday night in memory of the midfielder, who played 173 games for the club.

Shane Tuck pictured with his wife Katherine and (right) during his Tigers playing days.
Shane Tuck died at the age of 38 on Monday Image: Getty

Giants coach Leon Cameron described Tuck's death as "really, really sad and hard to take".

"If we can play any part in acknowledging or celebrating his life (on Friday night) ... then we will," Cameron said.

"Our thoughts go our to the Tuck family and Richmond footy club."

The round-eight meeting between the teams will their first regular-season match since last year's grand final, when the Tigers cruised to an 89-point victory.

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Cameron and Hardwick both downplayed the prospect of mental scarring from that lopsided contest, with the latter even struggling to recall how long ago it was.

"The sides are very much different," Hardwick said.

"What took place eight months ago - or even further, I don't know - that game is done and dusted.

"We're not quite at our best but not far off it ... they're probably a bit like us, not quite at their best but not far off it."

Hardwick confirmed small forwards Daniel Rioli and Jack Higgins will both play, while David Astbury and Trent Cotchin will sit out another match.

Star forward Toby Greene is expected to return from injury after missing the Giants' loss to Brisbane, which resulted in his side crashing to 13th on the ladder.

The showdown between 2017 Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin and the league's premier tagger Matt de Boer will be one to watch.

Martin earned his second Norm Smith medal as best on ground during the 2019 grand final, while he was suspended for striking during the Tigers' previous visit to Giants Stadium.

"Matt's a really good player, he's elite at what he does. Dustin's an elite player, it should be a great contest," Hardwick said.

"When Dustin's at his best he avoids that contact, so to speak.

"Dustin knows when he's on the move and at his very best that he's hard to stop."

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