Triple-premiership coach Damien Hardwick has stepped aside from the top job at Richmond effective immediately after realising he was no longer able to commit “100 per cent” to the job.
Hardwick told a packed media conference at Punt Road on Tuesday that he had felt for some time that 2023 would be his last year as Richmond coach.
The conviction that the time was right to stand down and let the players “listen to a different voice” became clearer in the past couple of weeks, prompting the decision to call time on his record 307-game tenure.
“I would rather leave too early than too late,” he said.
Current assistant Andrew McQualter has been appointed as interim coach and will assume the reins for Sunday’s clash with Port Adelaide.
Hardwick paid tribute to everyone associated with Richmond – a club he joined in 2010 after a distinguished playing career at Essendon and Port Adelaide and an assistant coaching stint at Hawthorn under his great friend Alastair Clarkson.
“It’s a tough gig being an AFL coach but the support I’ve received from the majority of people has been absolutely outstanding,” he said.
“The Richmond football club has been the love of my life.”
Richmond president John O’Rourke paid tribute to Hardwick‘s legacy.
“History was created under his watch and for that we will be forever indebted,” he told reporters.
Hardwick‘s term was the longest in Richmond history and he’ll go down as one of the club’s all-time greats alongside Tom Hafey, having led the Tigers to premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020.