Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has strongly backed the considerate decision made by the Tigers’ star key defender Alex Rance not to pursue a comeback this season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the opening round clash with Carlton at the MCG.

Rance had been working feverishly in a bold bid to defy the odds and play a part in Richmond’s 2019 finals campaign, but opted earlier this week to put his comeback on hold until next year.

ROUND 21 Upgrade to a reserved seat or buy your tickets at

“We just had to let it run its course,” Hardwick said.

“Alex was always going to try and play. That’s sort of the nature of the beast.

“But he also realised it was probably a bit of a bridge too far. So he made the really selfless call to put the team first and put himself out to pasture for the remainder of the year.

“He’ll still have a valuable role to play, there’s no doubt . . . His coaching and the way he sees the game is really important to us, and he can certainly help other players improve along the way.”

Alex Rance at Richmond training on Friday

Hardwick also admitted there was a sense of relief that Rance hadn’t risked a premature return to the playing field, given the severity of his injury.

“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen play. He was prepared to run the gauntlet for the benefit of the side, but the reality was, from a medical perspective, it was always going to be tough to play,” Hardwick said.

“Our medical guys have always been very strong in the fact that 10 months is bare minimum (recovery time).

DONATE NOW Donate to the Alannah & Madeline Foundation and help stop online bullying

“We were prepared to see how it went for a while, but medical staff were really strong on what they required for him to play, and he got close.

“I’m just glad the decision’s been made now and we can move on . . . and he can help us in other ways off the field.”