Richmond’s AFL empire is crumbling but coach Damien Hardwick is refusing to give up on the season despite the Tigers crashing to a fourth straight defeat.
Hopes of a premiership three-peat have evaporated in recent weeks but Sunday’s capitulation at the MCG, where they led Collingwood by 29 points during the third quarters, leaves Richmond in tatters.
The most successful club of the past five years will end round-17 in 12th on the ladder at 7-9 with even their chances of a finals appearance fading.
“Whilst there’s a pulse, there’s always a chance,” Hardwick when asked if Richmond could make the top-eight.
“We’ll just continue to build our brand and invest in some generation-next kids that are coming through and seeing how they go.
“Some real positives to take out of today’s game from our younger players, which is good.”
Richmond have just five days to respond as they face premiership contenders Brisbane at the MCG on Friday in Tigers veteran Jack Riewoldt’s 300th game.
Their injury list, which contains premiership heroes Toby Nankervis, Nick Vlastuin, Shane Edwards, Kane Lambert, Dion Prestia, Noah Balta, Bachar Houli and Nathan Broad, could have ruckman Mabior Chol added to it.
Chol rolled his ankle during the first quarter against Collingwood but played out the game when Marlion Pickett was forced to take ruck duties.
He will be assessed during the week but Hardwick says Chol will be no certainty to face the Lions.
“I’m not sure we’ll get anyone back at this stage; they’re all probably doubtful,” Hardwick said.
“It is what it is. We lick our wounds and we give guys another opportunity and find some players that are going to come up.
“We had some promising performances in the VFL so we’ll look at some of those players.”
One of the only positives for Richmond was youngster Sydney Stack’s solid return outing in his first game since last year following a series of off-field indiscretions.
“It’s what he does with the knowledge that he takes out of the journey thus far, but more importantly, what he learns and grows from it,” Hardwick said.
“He was pretty good today, but we know how good he can be so I want to see what he does with it.
“He’s too good a player to be not playing AFL, and he’s got a chance now so we’ll see how he goes.”