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It's big-boy month, says Hardwick

Hird's word, Gary's proposal and more Footy Feed with Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 9: Shaun Hampson of the Tigers stretches during the Richmond Tigers training session at the ME Bank Centre, Melbourne on July 9, 2015. (Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Damien Hardwick says Shaun Hampson has earned a recall to replace the suspended Ivan Maric
The month of July is when the big boys step out
Damien Hardwick

RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has labelled July "big-boy month", with the Tigers entering a crucial block that will separate the contenders from the pretenders.

After beating Greater Western Sydney by nine points in round 14, Richmond faces Carlton on Friday night at the MCG before clashes against St Kilda, Fremantle and Hawthorn. 

Hardwick said the 8-5 Tigers, who sit sixth on the ladder, would know where they are in the pecking order by the end of the month. 

"The month of July is when the big boys step out," the coach said on Thursday.  

"It's a make-or-break month, not only for our football club, but most football clubs.

"It's when the contenders step up and the pretenders step away.

"We've had that conversation with our players. It's big-boy month, so it's time to come and play." 

Richmond will recall Shaun Hampson for his first AFL game this season after ruckman Ivan Maric was suspended for one match for striking Greater Western Sydney's Jack Steele.

Hampson started the season in dominant VFL form but he has not played for four weeks after suffering a knee injury. 

He was pulled out of the VFL last Sunday, when he was due to make his return, to make sure he was available to cover Maric once he was reported.

"Shaun Hampson will play and he has earned his spot … he's dominated regularly at that level," Hardwick said.

"We're really excited the opportunity has presented for Shaun. It gives him just reward for effort." 

The Tigers will also consider selecting one of young tall Liam McBean or defender David Astbury as a replacement in the forward line for injured Ben Griffiths.

"That'll be an interesting decision for us … or it's whether we go small up forward," Hardwick said. 

"David has played forward on and off at the VFL level the past few weeks and he's a quality player who competes really well at both levels."

Richmond trailed the Giants by 15 points at three-quarter time last Saturday and Hardwick said his team was lucky to escape with a win after one good quarter of football. 

He said he was disappointed he needed to unleash an animated three-quarter time address in an effort to inspire his troops. 

Winning ugly a positive sign for Tigers: Hardwick

"It's not very often we see that sort of reaction from me, but it probably means we weren't playing with anywhere near the level of work-rate or hardness that we know we can play to," he said. 

"It was disappointing it comes to that and we spoke about that at length in our Monday reviews. From our point of view it can't come to that again this week." 

The Tigers are preparing for a rejuvenated Carlton team that sits 2-3 under interim coach John Barker, with Hardwick wary of their stoppage game and speed off half-back.  

He said rebounders Kade Simpson and Chris Yarran were two players who would require close attention as the Tigers seek to get the game on their terms.

"We know we're certainly in for a quick game, they play a quick attacking brand of footy off half-back so we need to make sure we slow them down as much as we can," he said. 

"The way they've been playing has been inspired."