Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is confident his team will once again rise to the top and hit peak form at the right time of the year.
The Tigers have fallen to back-to-back losses in the last two weeks and face a St Kilda side on Thursday that came from six goals down to beat West Coast.
Damien Hardwick says the Tigers will perform when the whips are cracking.Credit:Getty Images
Richmond are not immune to slow starts in the season – they won just one of their opening four matches last year, and two of their first four in 2019. But both seasons ended up in premiership victories.
“The game looks different from what it looks now to what it looks like at the end of the year,” Hardwick told reporters before training on Tuesday.
“We would like to be playing better, we’re not playing at our absolute best, we’d like to be banking some four points, there’s no doubt about it.
“But what we do know is that when the whips start to crack, that’s when we play our best footy.
“We need to get moving, there’s no doubt about that, but the fact of the matter is premierships aren’t won in April.”
Kamdyn McIntosh is available for selection against St Kilda are recovering from concussion, while Daniel Rioli could return to the senior side after being dropped.
The three-time premiership forward performed well in the VFL, and Hardwick leapt to his defence when questions were raised about Rioli’s consistency.
“He’s a little bit hard to judge. Daniel plays a really specific role that doesn’t require him to get 15 kicks and three goals,” Hardwick said.
Daniel Rioli has been out of Richmond’s senior side.Credit:Getty Images
“What it is, it’s very mentally draining for him to play that role week in, week out. Sometimes he needs to go back just to freshen up and find the footy a little bit for his own piece of mind
“We judge this kid off [fantasy] points, but what we judge him on is win/loss. And he’s got three premiership medals to represent that so from our point of view Daniel plays a really specific role and he plays it very, very well.”
Sydney Stack will play some “limited” game time in the VFL after what has been a horror period for the youngster.
Stack has served his 10-game ban for his breach of COVID-19 protocols last year, but he also spent Christmas behind bars in Perth after breaking that state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Hardwick said it was great to have him back and playing football.
“He’s settled in well. It’s been a pretty traumatic experience for a 20-year-old. We sit there and judge people pretty quickly on what they are but it’s more important what he’s going to do moving forward,” Hardwick said.
“We’re really excited about what he can become. He can play the game. What we’re looking for from Sydney is to get the consistency in his life that allows him to play the game at the very highest level. Ability is no question, he’s got it.”
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