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AFL 2016 Portraits - Damien Hardwick

Damien Hardwick is set to sign a two-year contract extension

RICHMOND is set to extend Damien Hardwick's contract before round one and spare the coach an uncertain start to the season.

AFL.com.au has confirmed the Tigers are preparing to offer the coach a two-year extension, taking him through to the end of 2018.

With 17 days before the club's season opener against Carlton on March 24, an announcement is expected before the ball is bounced to launch a defining season for the coach.

The new terms could see the 43-year-old become just the third man to coach more than 200 games with Richmond, joining club greats Jack Dyer and Tom Hafey.

He would also drawn within reach of Hafey's record of 248 games in charge.  

Hardwick has led the Tigers to the finals in each of the past three seasons but his team has been unable to clear the first hurdle, bowing out in three straight elimination finals.

He was set to enter 2016 under mounting pressure, but the Tigers will avoid that distraction by making his appointment official before round one.

Hardwick has led the Tigers in 135 games for a winning record of 66-67 (49 per cent) with two draws.

He turned the club's season around in 2015 after a poor start, leading them to 13 wins from their last 16 games.

Once signed, the former Essendon and Port Adelaide defender will leave Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley as the only coach out of contract at the end of this season.

The Brisbane Lions announced on Monday night that Justin Leppitsch had agreed to a one-year extension for 2017. 

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon signed a three-year extension last week, taking him through to the end of 2020, while Greater Western Sydney extended Leon Cameron's contract for a further two seasons last month.