'Arrogant': AFL's private relief over Richmond Tigers disaster

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·Sports Reporter
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Channel 9 AFL reporter Caroline Wilson says the league is privately pleased the Richmond Tigers will miss the finals this season. Pictures: Channel 9/Getty Images
Channel 9 AFL reporter Caroline Wilson says the league is privately pleased the Richmond Tigers will miss the finals this season. Pictures: Channel 9/Getty Images

Richmond's dismal 2021 campaign has reportedly been met with a degree of happiness behind closed doors at the AFL, according to Channel 9 reporter Caroline Wilson.

The reigning premiers will miss the finals this season after a tumultuous season overshadowed by the loss of star midfielder Dustin Martin for much of the season.

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Wilson said on Footy Classified on Monday night that the series of off-field controversies surrounding the Tigers over the last 18 months had led to a fraying relationship between the club and the AFL.

Chief among those controversies was the nightclub incident involving Daniel Rioli and Shai Bolton in May, with the AFL reportedly unhappy with Richmond's handling of the incident.

The Tigers also caused some headaches for the AFL in 2020, with breaches of the 'bubble' environment the league had agreed to in order for the season to proceed in Queensland not going down well with the league.

“There have been some little lapses in discipline. No one is celebrating this missing of the finals more than the AFL,” Wilson said on Monday night.

“They loathed Richmond’s behaviour last year. 

"There were so many things that they felt they didn’t do right in the hub. And there have been so many comments this year by Damien Hardwick that have riled the AFL.”

Hardwick ruffled feathers at the AFL earlier in the season after suggesting the Tigers would have had bigger crowds if certain matches were scheduled at the MCG, rather than at Docklands.

The Tigers coach was accused of being overly defensive recently after former Brisbane Lions player Jonathan Brown criticised a recent performance.

Fellow Footy Classified panellist Kane Cornes agreed there had been an element of hubris to Richmond's fortunes in 2021.

“They have been an arrogant footy club, there’s no doubt about that."

Tigers can bounce back in 2022: Hardwick

Richmond's dream of an AFL premiership hat-trick is in tatters - but coach Damien Hardwick is bullish about the power club's chances of bouncing back into contention next season.

Only a highly unlikely series of results going their way can keep the Tigers in the hunt in 2021, following Friday night's comprehensive 39-point defeat to GWS.

It was the Tigers' seventh loss in their last nine games, killing off any realistic hopes of a top-eight berth.

The sobering scenario comes at the back-end of a campaign when Richmond have struggled to cope with a weight of injuries to senior players, including superstar Dustin Martin, who had his season cut short by a lacerated kidney.

The Tigers have also had their collective hunger questioned after enjoying a period of sustained success, claiming three flags in a golden run over the previous four years.

Richmond will miss the finals in 2021 after winning three premierships in the prior four seasons. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Richmond will miss the finals in 2021 after winning three premierships in the prior four seasons. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

But with a strong senior core and talented wave of youngsters coming through, as well as a solid draft hand, Hardwick is confident Richmond can rebound quickly.

Without finals to play, they will also have the benefit of a longer off-season for the first time in five years.

"When we have a good pre-season, I think we'll be a hell of a lot better," Hardwick said after the loss to GWS.

"It's been a tough road; three out of the last four years we've been deep in September and this year's been as hard as it's ever been.

"Whoever wins it this year is going to have an enormous tick beside their name.

"But if our guys do refresh, we regenerate a couple of things and get some young talent in, invest in the talent we've already got, I think we'll be reasonably placed to have another crack."

With AAP

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