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Hardwick expecting 'hostile environment'

Nathan Schmook, AFL Media  August 10, 2017 3:17 PM

Hardwick previews Geelong Damien Hardwick speaks to the media ahead of Richmond's Round 21 match against Geelong.

Richmond's ability to win when a star player is sidelined - or below their best - has been a key difference for the Tigers in 2017 when compared to last year's 8–14 season.

Saturday's blockbuster against top-four rival Geelong presents an opportunity for the Tigers to end a 12-game losing streak against the Cats, with their last win at Simonds Stadium coming in 2006.  

Hardwick expected to encounter a cauldron like atmosphere in Geelong, comparing the trip to an interstate match.

"We'll be taking them on in a hostile environment, obviously. Simonds Stadium is a different environment again, very skinny and long," the coach said.    

"But it's an incredible challenge for us. We think it will suit our style of game with our pressure and contested-ball situation.  

"We're really looking forward to the challenge of going down there. It's very much like an interstate trip really … it's only an hour down the highway but it feels like that sort of game."  

The Tigers' chances were boosted by the Match Review Panel on Monday when Geelong key forward Tom Hawkins (two matches) and midfielder Mitch Duncan (one match) were offered suspensions they ultimately accepted.  

Cats captain Joel Selwood is also sidelined with an ankle injury for at least the rest of the home and away season, but Hardwick said the uncertainty around the Geelong line-up was not a positive for him.        

"As coaches we love predictability of how they're going to play and how they're going to line up," he said.    

"With 'Hawk' going out it is a different look, whether Harry (Taylor) goes forward, we probably think that may be the case.  

"So it's going to be a different look for them and for us. But once again we don't want to see the good players rubbed out for incidents such as that."