Richmond AFL coach Damien Hardwick has come out swinging in defence of Tom Lynch after the Tigers' gun forward was slammed for his aggression on the field.
Lynch was fined this week for separate strikes on Gold Coast's Sam Collins and Jarrod Witts, having previously been sanctioned for misconduct on Brisbane's Alex Witherden, when he pushed his head into the ground.
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A fired-up Hardwick said while Lynch would at times overstep the mark, criticism of his character was "over the top".
"I've spoken to Tom - I love his aggression, sometimes he's going to go over (the line) and he's going to (give away) free kicks, or like the weekend he's going to get a report or two," Hardwick told reporters on Thursday.
"But I thought the carry-on was completely over the top, to be fair. Those sort of things happen within the game 400 times, but for whatever reason we all go after Tom Lynch.
"So I found it disappointing, especially from some of the players that made comment."
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Hardwick played down Brisbane winger Mitch Robinson's comments on Lynch but flatly rejected criticism from former Melbourne forward David Schwarz, who had claimed the premiership Tiger was "not tough" and needed to "stop being a knucklehead".
"Look, (Lynch is) not overly proud of what he did to young Witherden and on the weekend but the reality is, these things happen from time to time but let's not define a person's character by that one event - let's look at a period of work," Hardwick said.
"This guy's incredibly brave on the field - he jumps into packs, he jumps back with courage.
"So for people to sit there and say he lacks courage is completely irresponsible and lacks perspective in my point of view and they really should have a good hard look at themselves.
"Because I guarantee you, there's a few players out there making comment.
"Mainly I'm looking at David Schwarz here - I played a grand final (in 2000) against that bloke and within 20 minutes of the game he was crying - so (he should) have a look at himself at some stage."
Hardwick said fellow forward Jack Riewoldt would be fit to face Essendon in Darwin after a lighter training load on Thursday, while veteran defender Bachar Houli will return after completing his quarantine period.
Ruckman Toby Nankervis (ankle) played a scrimmage but won't be ready for Saturday's game.
Meanwhile Dion Prestia suffered a minor setback with his own ankle injury, undergoing surgery on an infection in the wound, but Hardwick was confident the midfielder would be ready for the start of finals.