Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has conceded captain Trent Cotchin is playing out of position, while saying he’s “headbutting a brick wall” amid the losing streak that is ruining their season.
The Tigers lost their fourth consecutive game when they allowed Collingwood to come back from 29 points down. It was their second collapse in recent weeks, after coughing up a 22 point lead to West Coast, and follows upset losses to St Kilda and Gold Coast.
They will finish Round 17 in 12th position on the ladder, just the third time in nine years they’ve been that low this close to the finals series.
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A brutal run of injuries hasn’t helped, with Toby Nankervis a notable absentee against Brodie Grundy’s Magpies on Sunday, while Noah Balta, Nathan Broad, Shane Edwards, Bachar Houli, Kane Lambert, Dion Prestia and Nick Vlastuin are also on the sidelines at the moment.
Mabior Chol (rolled ankle) played out the game but could be added to an injury list giving Hardwick nightmares, especially with none of them likely to play next Friday night against Brisbane.
“See my head? There’s a dent in it from headbutting a brick wall at the moment,” Hardwick said post-game.
“I‘m not sure we’ll get anyone back, they’re all doubtful at this stage.
“We lick our wounds, we give guys another opportunity and we find some guys who are going to come up.
“We were hoping (Nankervis) would be closer. He‘s tough, Toby, but he’s so important for us. It’s a delicate injury, if he’s not right and he hurts it again, he’s gone for the year. We thought we might be able to push the envelope a bit. He still might get up, but it’s looking doubtful at this point.”
However Hardwick wasn‘t fully blaming injuries for their slide, saying “that’s part of it, we’d still like to be playing a little bit better.”
The triple premiership coach also defended his captain Cotchin, who had just 13 disposals against the Magpies, conceding he doesn’t suit the modern game in his current role.
“I’d love to manage him, to be honest,” Hardwick said.
“He’s a battering ram. He’s played like that for 15 years at the highest level. The game has changed, there’s no doubt about that. It is more uncontested marks, we’re seeing a lot of it at the moment.
“There’s not a lot of stoppage, contest-type things that are his strengths.
“We sort of have spoken about moving into a different position, but we need him to play midfield at the moment.”
He added: “People look at the stats sheet, but what Trent brings you can’t measure.”