Richmond’s under-fire players have taken charge as they attempt to turn an underwhelming AFL season around, demanding better in a brutally honest review of the loss to Hawthorn.
As pundits pontificated about the team’s lack of run and grilled chief executive Brendon Gale over his recruitment policy, those directly responsible for a 2-4 start to a year that promised so much relived the 66-point loss to the Hawks.
With so many gifted goals, it wasn’t pretty viewing.
“Funnily enough the players took over. They were really disappointed,” said coach Damien Hardwick, a picture of calm before Thursday’s training session.
“They always have input in the review but this week was probably the loudest they’ve been, which is great to see.
“There’s nothing better as a coach then when the players actually stand up and demand in the meeting what’s required of them.”
As Hardwick was quick to note, his charges must now put words into action and rediscover form and confidence against Geelong on Sunday at the MCG.
“Confidence is a funny thing. Sometimes you have to fool yourself to being more confident than what you are.”
It is a task that proved insurmountable in one-sided losses to Collingwood and Hawthorn, who along with the Cats and Port Adelaide are the early-season pacesetters.
The Tigers will be boosted by the return of playmaker Brett Deledio and key defender Alex Rance from injury, but the vast majority outside Punt Road Oval expect them to lose again.
That would make the top four a fanciful goal, leaving the side to instead scrap for the chance to make up places in the finals that have been historically irrelevant.
Hardwick suggested it was too early in the season to worry about prospects instead of processes.
“The other way (to look at it) is we’re one game outside the eight. It’s an incredibly long season and a very even season,” Hardwick said, comparing it to last year when his side finished one win outside the top four.
“We knew it was always going to be an even year … we’ve just got to make sure we start winning games.”
To achieve that this weekend, Hardwick obviously examined Port Adelaide’s upset 40-point win over the Cats.
Likewise, the many assets counterpart Chris Scott will boast on Sunday.
But his players’ focus has been more simple – the absent run and carry that had underlined Richmond’s recent resurgence.
“We probably have scaled down a little bit with the opposition analysis,” Hardwick said.
“We’ve showed them vision of last year and the year previous, when we were moving the ball a little bit better.
“We know what to do. We’ve just got to make sure we transfer that knowledge from in the classroom to on the ground.”