Hardwick’s blunt message to help the Tigers move on from prelim loss

It was one of the biggest finals upsets of the last 20 years, but what was Richmond coach Damien Hardwick’s summation of the Tigers’ stunning preliminary final loss to Collingwood in September?

Quite simply: “Shit happens.”

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick had a prosaic message for his troops after the loss to Collingwood.Credit:AAP

There were rumours that a nasty bug had swept through the team in the lead-up to the preliminary final, but Vlastuin wasn’t going to blame the loss on sickness.

“I think Dave [Astbury] was one of the main ones but no one really used that as an excuse, I don’t think it was a whole group thing, it was just one or two blokes weren’t feeling great,” he said.

“We just didn’t perform and Collingwood played really well.”

Superstar Dustin Martin was also believed to have been suffering a significant knee injury heading into the preliminary final, and the fact that he had a quiet game seemed to back up that suspicion.

However, Vlastuin said the Brownlow medallist was now looking in better shape than he usually does at this time of year.

“He’s been hanging out with ‘Cotch’ [Trent Cotchin] and his family for the last month or so,” he said.

“So there wasn’t too much ‘Vegasing’ and stuff, or I think he got it all out of his system right at the start … so he’s actually looking pretty good.”

Boom recruit Tom Lynch continues to build up to full fitness after undergoing PCL surgery earlier this year.

“He’s going really well, he’s in rehab still, so not with the main group, but pretty much two weeks before even our young boys were back, he was in there every day,” he said.

“He’s had a pretty extended break, so he’s keen to get back into it.”

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