Tigers ready to step up v Eagles in AFL

Richmond might have already taken their half-step back and could be ready to take two steps forward against West Coast in Friday night’s AFL clash at Domain Stadium.

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Damien Hardwick’s assertion that the Tigers might need to go backwards to make a giant leap forward in the aftermath of their loss to Adelaide raised eyebrows but the coach said it was a fair summation of the situation they found themselves in.

Injuries to Brett Deledio, Ivan Maric and Reece Conca, coupled with the retirements of veterans like Chris Newman, Dan Jackson and Nathan Foley, have left a void that Hardwick has had to fill with younger players – at least at the start of the season.

Richmond, widely expected to challenge for the top four this season, have come under fire for their lacklustre 1-2 start to their campaign.

But Hardwick is adamant the Tigers will reap the rewards of blooding younger players sooner rather than later.

“We’re only talking about a three-to-four week window … we think we’ll get a lot better over the course of time,” Hardwick said on Thursday.

“So we’re really excited about the way that we’re going to get those (young) players into the side and play some really good footy.

“Regeneration happens in the AFL all the time and we’re probably in that period now where we’re getting an opportunity for those players to play.

“Whilst it may take us that half-step back, we’re certainly encouraged that it’s going to take us two steps forward in the not-too-distant future.”

Hardwick made two unforced changes to the side defeated by the Crows, with Andrew Moore and Taylor Hunt coming in for Anthony Miles and Jayden Short.

The Eagles (2-1) stuck with the same 22 that defeated Fremantle in last week’s heated local derby. The 12-placed Tigers will have to make do without Maric and Deledio again this week but they will push for selection in round five against Melbourne. Both are yet to make a senior appearance this season, but Maric resumed from a back injury in the VFL last week and Hardwick said Deledio had turned the corner with his quad injury.

The coach admitted his side were in a hole at 1-2 but would travel to Perth with confidence knowing that they’d won their past three matches there.