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“I Love You To Death”, Damien Hardwick Announces Retirement

“If I couldn’t give it 100 per cent, there was no way I was going to coach,” Richmond’s coach Damien Hardwick explains the reason for his retirement, effective immediately.

Spending the last 14 years at the club, leading the Tigers to three premierships, Hardwick said he is burned out and couldn’t commit the same amount of time and passion.

“I wasn’t going to be the coach of Richmond next year. The best thing for myself was to step aside,” Hardwick said at a press conference at Punt Road on Tuesday.

“If I couldn’t give this club the very best of Damien Hardwick, I wasn’t prepared to see it (his contract, which was due to end next season) out.”

When asked about the timing of his departure, Hardwick said, “if you have to keep asking yourself the question, you know the answer”.

“It all just became a bit too much for me,” he said.

“I made the fatal mistake of watching The Last Dance (documentary) and I thought what may have been.

“Once I decided that that side of the equation was slipping away I started to question myself.”

An emotional Hardwick thaned Richmond’s players and staff, both present and those he encountered over the 14 years, for the experience he had.

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“To my playing group, I spoke to you before about how much I’ve loved being your coach… you all mean the world to me and I’ve enjoyed every aspect of being your coach,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful place and I’ll also like to thank our fans. It’s a tough gig being an AFL coach but the support I’ve received from the majority of people has been outstanding.”

“The Richmond Football Club has been the love of my life.”

News broke on Monday

A 7pm text sent out on Monday night asked players and staff to attend a meeting on Tuesday morning prior to the press conference.

The unexpected news of Hardwick quitting broke on Monday, with some players and staff at the Tigers yet to be told of his decision.

Hardwick finishes his 14-year career with 307 games at the helm (170-6-131), including the 2017, 2019 and 2020 premierships. He holds the club record for most games coached ahead of Tom Hafey (248) and Jack Dyer (222).

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