Season can still be salvaged: Hardwick
Monday, April 25, 2016 - 9:49 AM

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RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has conceded his side is a far from playing its best football, but insists the Tigers can "dig deep" and salvage what has been a horror start to the season.

Sunday night's 33-point loss to Melbourne has the Tigers reeling at 1-4.

Strangely enough, this story line is all too familiar for Richmond fans with the club slow starters in the past two seasons.

Last year, the Tigers rallied after a 2-4 start to the season to finish fifth.

In 2014, they were 3-10 but somehow managed to find a way out of the hole and play in an elimination final against the Power.  

Now after five rounds, the Tigers find themselves in yet another precarious position, but Hardwick firmly believes his side can once again turn around their season.

"At some stage we as a football group will stand up and say 'listen, enough is enough and we need to get on with it'," Hardwick said.

"The reality is our players put on the jumper and they're expected to play a certain way. We let ourselves down tonight, and that's on me, my coaching group, and the club as a whole.

"It's not good enough for the type of club we are. We have been here before. We'll dig deep, find some answers and we'll come out a better side."

Hardwick will be hoping his players make a stand next Saturday night at the MCG against a struggling Port Adelaide.

While the coach wouldn't go as far to say it was a season-defining clash, he acknowledged it was an "important" game for the club.

Skipper Trent Cotchin and key forward Jack Riewoldt, along with Anthony Miles and Shane Edwards, were the Tigers' best contributors against the Demons.

Hardwick said the heat was on the majority of the playing group to raise the standard of footy.

"Trent and Jack battled fearlessly tonight," he said.

"There are certainly some players we know can play better that aren't playing to the level of expectation. We've got to perform to a better level.

"We need to bounce back and rectify the season because we're a long way off it." 

The Tigers should regain midfielder Brett Deledio for the clash against the Power after he was a late withdrawal on Sunday night.

A quad injury has kept Deledio on the sidelines so far this season, Hardwick admitting the midfielder was "touch and go" to play.

The club decided an extra week of training would be more beneficial for the Tigers star. 

About the AFLCA
Round Four Leaderboard
26 Tom Mitchell (Haw)
24 Steele Sidebottom (Coll)
23 Brodie Grundy (Coll)
23 Rory Laird (Adel)
23 Dustin Martin (Rich)
22 Ben Brown (NM)
19 Max Gawn (Melb)
18 Stephen Coniglio (GWS)
18 Trent Cotchin (Rich)
18 Lance Franklin (Syd)
18 Nat Fyfe (Frem)