Chris Newman
Chris Newman

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has leapt to the defence of Chris Newman, saying he is unconcerned by his captain's low possession count.

Newman has struggled to find the ball in the past fortnight, unable to have a major impact against Carlton (nine disposals) and Brisbane (eight).

But Hardwick said the number of disposals Newman gathered was not an area of focus, preferring to hail the 30-year-old's leadership.

"He's been heavily tagged over the last month. His numbers have come down but the fact is his on-field leadership has been outstanding and something that you can't measure from a statistical point of view," Hardwick said on Friday.

"I've been very happy with the way he's gone about his footy. His leadership on and off the ground has been great and he's just getting the job done for us.

"The time will come when his possession count rises again but that's not something we're overly concerned about."

Newman is just one of four current Richmond players to have recorded a win against the Western Bulldogs, who the Tigers face at the MCG on Sunday.

Brett Deledio, Daniel Jackson and Shane Tuck are the only others, with the Bulldogs unbeaten against Richmond in their past nine meetings, dating back to 2005.

Hardwick said his team needed to be at their best if they were to end their poor run against the Bulldogs.

"I didn't realise it was so long ago. The thing about the Dogs is their first halves are very, very good. They probably fall away a little bit - as has been well documented - in the second half," he said.

"They're a side that hunt the contested ball well so we've got to be well and truly on our guard and play the game on our terms and get the result we're after."

The Bulldogs have lost seven straight, outscored by a total of 49 goals after the main break in those matches.

Hardwick said it was important his side focused on their own game, not whether the Bulldogs would fade out again.

"We just worry about what we can control. It's been a strength of ours - our second halves," he said.

"We'll just keep monitoring the way we go about the way we play. Sides that play a consistently good brand of footy just worry about what they do and we're starting to get to that stage now."


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