Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says he is drawing similarities from his team’s 2017 premiership to the one Hawthorn won in 2008.
Hardwick was an assistant to Alastair Clarkson when the Hawks came out as the unlikely premiers in 2008, knocking off Geelong Cats who had only lost one game for the entire year.
The Tigers ended won their first premiership since 1980 after downing the Adelaide Crows by 48-points on Saturday.
The Crows finished first on the ladder and were favourites to win their third premiership however produced a lacklustre performance on the day.
“It’s funny, I was speaking to Clarko on Monday night, the eeriness comparing it to the 2008 Hawks,” Hardwick said.
“Back in 08’, the Hawks lost to Richmond in Round 20. We lost to Geelong Round 21 then we went whack, whack, whack, and played our best footy.
“I remember saying to our players we learn a lot of lessons from the games we lost, we played our best footy when it mattered most.
“We could see we were doing a lot right, we got beaten in a couple of games but general feeling was our best was good enough. We had the template, but we had to work on a few things on the way.”
Hardwick said it felt more special to win a premiership as a coach compared to winning one as a player.
He won the 2000 premiership with Essendon and played his final game in the 2004 grand final for Port Adelaide.
He explained success felt better as a coach compared to his playing days, because of the reward he gets from being a mentor.
“Generally it’s because you see a group of men that you’re helping work to get something you’ve already achieved, it makes it special,” he said.
“To see the young kids get the reward for an incredible season is credit to our whole football club, coaching staff.”
Richmond finished 13th in 2016 and Hardwick said he would have never envisaged a premiership before the season.
Hardwick also admits he was stunned with the turnaround.
“I was confident if we played our best, we’d make finals. If you asked me if we’d be sitting up here collecting medals and collecting premiership cap, I’d say you’re kidding yourself,” he said.
“Credit to Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoltd, Alex Rance, Brendon Gale and Peggy O’Neal, it’s just been a phenomenal ride this year.
“It’s been really special, you don’t want it to end you’d be happy to play next week to be honest.”
And while very few teams have won back-to-back premierships, Hardwick said he was realistic about their goals for next year.
Hawthorn won three premierships in a row, however the Tigers coach feels the game is changing every year.
“We mightn’t get back next year… that’s as even as a competition it is, that’s a brutal reality,” Hardwick said.
“Many people were likening us to the Western Bulldogs and we saw the trials and tribulations they had this year as well.
“The competition is brutal, they’ll prepare a lot harder for us now, they’ll go to school on us a lot more so we’ll just take this for what it is and we’ll just reset for next year.”