Ben Rutten will help Richmond’s coaching team extract more improvement from the Tigers, coach Damien Hardwick believes.

Rutten, who retired last year after a 229-game career at Adelaide, arrived at Tigerland having already honed his coaching skills in his final seasons as a Crow.

He is another recently retired player that Hardwick hopes can help Richmond move deep into September this year.

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The former full-back joins Hawthorn premiership ruckman Max Bailey and former St Kilda and Gold Coast midfielder Andrew McQualter as Richmond coaches to have played the game in recent years.

Hardwick said it was significant for the coaching panel to have some first-hand experience of today's game, with Rutten's recent involvement significantly valuable.

"The further you become removed from your playing duties as a coach, you sort of forget what it's like at times to be a player," Hardwick told

"Those guys remind you because they're just recently out of the game.

"It is incredibly difficult, the game these days, as compared to when we played, so you've got to remember that.

"The one thing they bring is probably a player's perspective through coaches' eyes, which we're really excited about. And more importantly they bring great ideas from other clubs."

Rutten isn't just working with the Tigers' defenders in his role as backline coach.

Hardwick said he would assist all the key position players, and translate his own experience of lining up against Jack Riewoldt into helping the full-forward develop his game.

"There's not many players that come from a key defender background into coaching, so we're really excited about what he can offer our key position players - not only backs, but also forwards and the rucks to a degree," he said.

"He's got a really specialised skills-set that we're really looking forward to bringing into our footy club.

"He's a guy that's been working on his craft for a number of years - he hasn't just come straight out of playing and thrown his hat in the ring, he's been working as a coach whilst playing, which is exciting for us."

Rutten will have the luxury of working with almost a full complement of defenders, with David Astbury set to make an impact this season after another year ruined by a knee injury.

Astbury was coming second in the best and fairest count when he dislocated his left patella in round nine, and had been standing up with eventual All Australian defender Alex Rance absent.

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It was an injury that affected Hardwick deeply, with the coach visibly upset after it happened and still describing it as "catastrophic" for Astbury, the players and the club as a whole eight months on.

Hardwick said the dynamic of the backline would obviously change with Rance and Astbury both available after playing just three games together last year.

But - as well as slating the Tigers would take a young team into their first pre-season Challenge clash on February 28 against the Western Bulldogs - he's planning on using the pre-season competition to find the best fit.

"It's an interesting one. It's same at the other end with the three talls – can we fit Chaplin, Grimes, Astbury, Batchelor … all these guys in the same backline?" he said.

"That's why we're really excited to go into this NAB Challenge campaign, to see what's going to be the best side for us to win football matches.

"But, the reality is, all those guys are fit and firing at the moment and we're really excited we've got all our key position prospects on the park and we're looking forward to seeing what they can deliver.

"[Astbury] is dearly loved, he's going to be an incredible player for us and we're looking forward to him taking his career to the next level because he's certainly got the characteristics and more importantly the ability to do so."