Hardwick: We won’t let Neale off leash again
Richmond will consider tweaking its midfield set up to stop Brisbane Lions' ball magnet Lachie Neale having another field day in their qualifying final in a fortnight.
The Tigers locked-in third spot with a 27-point win over the Lions and plan to get ruckman Toby Nankervis back from a groin injury for the showdown at the Gabba.
Hardwick says the Queensland fortress will hold no fears for the Tigers who have won their past eight matches at the venue and nine on the trot this season.
But Hardwick admitted Neale's 51 possessions were a concern as the Brownlow Medal fancy dominated inside the engine room with 14 clearances.
The senior coach said he was pleased with the Tigers' overall form heading into September but conceded Neale's red-hot clearance work in the mid-part of the game was a threat.
Hardwick said the Tigers would assess some "structural things" this week.
"Lachie Neale was incredible during that period (fightback), with 51 (possessions) and I don't know how many clearances he had, but he was very dominant during that part of the game," Hardwick said.
"We try and quell the influence where it is, at the source, but he is very agile at the stoppage, that's the strength of him.
"His agility can get him in and out of traffic quickly, but it (tagging) means you are also reactive as well.
"So whether we back in our boys (without a tag) we will have a look at it and have a better assessment come Monday."
Richmond was installed as the $3 premiership favourite with TAB on Sunday night after Jack Riewoldt snagged four first-term goals to jump the Lions at the MCG.
While Dylan Grimes' defensive tactics on Charlie Cameron will come under the spotlight this week, Hardwick lauded his defender's ability to play after hurting his ankle last week.
Hardwick said the Tigers weren't worried about playing the first final interstate at the Gabba after recovering from a slow start this season.
"The good thing about it, the dimensions are pretty similar to the MCG, so it's not going to be anything foreign to us," Hardwick said.
"And our boys have played pretty well there, but they (Lions) are a bloody good side, so it's going to be a tough game.
"To turn at 7-6, and then to reel off seven or eight wins in a row against some quality opposition sides is an enormous credit to our playing group and the leaders.
"So we acknowledge the good work that we have done, but we also acknowledge there is a power of work to do to get where we need to go."
Hardwick said Nankervis, who missed the victory with a groin problem, would play VFL on Saturday, in an attempt to play in the qualifying final.
"It's a nagging type of injury," Hardwick said.
"He trained today and he looked OK, but it's an injury that will take some managing.
"The rigours of AFL footy, rucking against some bigger type of opponents, he probably didn't handle it as well as we would have liked last time.
"But he has done a lot of strength work to get that batter. He looked pretty good at training today, so hopefully he pulls up OK and we can suit him up for Saturday week."