Tigers coach dismisses Trent Cotchin forward queries

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has leapt to Trent Cotchin's defence amid queries over the veteran midfielder's ability to contribute in a new role this season.

The addition of inside midfielders Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper means Cotchin will not feature as often in the Tigers' engine room in 2023.

The 32-year-old triple-premiership star will spend more time across half-forward than he has done for the majority of his decorated 287-game career.

Harsh critics have already branded Cotchin too slow and questioned whether he will kick enough goals to justify his position.

But Hardwick, who believes outsiders are too quick to write off champion players because "it's an easy story to write", is having none of it.

"He's a great contested-ball player but he's got incredible craft up forward, funnily enough," Hardwick told Fox Footy.

"He played this role for about the last six or seven weeks last year and he did that very well if you go back and have a look at the tape.

"He set up a lot of goals, he kicked a couple of goals as well, so we're really confident in what he can do.

"We also know that when push comes to shove we're going to need him at the coalface.

"He's a quality player and people always quickly jump on the champs."

Carlton coach Michael Voss, whose team takes on Richmond at the MCG on Thursday night, is wary of Cotchin's potential impact in the season opener.

"He might be a slightly different version (of himself) but he'll still be a pretty good version," Voss told Fox Footy.

"He'll still keep us well and truly aware about where is on the field at any one point."

Hardwick hopes former GWS guns Taranto and Hopper, playing alongside Dion Prestia and Shai Bolton, will give the Tigers new strength at stoppages this year.

"There's three phases of the game and we've been pretty good at two - the turnover game and offensively as well," Hardwick said.

"What we've probably struggled with is the clearance aspect and the ability to stop scoring from those.

"Over the course of the summer we addressed that, brought two ready-made players, good stoppage players and clearance players, that allow the game to be played a different way.

"If we can get that part of our game up and going it's going to make my job a hell of a lot easier and the way we play a little bit different as well."