RICHMOND'S best option to replace injured midfielder Reece Conca in round one could be Chris Yarran after the big-name recruit got through an intraclub match unscathed on Thursday night.
Conca, who has been a mainstay at half-back this pre-season, is certain to miss the season opener against Carlton after suffering his fourth hamstring injury in 12 months.
The Tigers are also waiting on scans to determine the severity of injuries to Shane Edwards (collarbone) and Shaun Grigg (hand) on a night of carnage for the club at Etihad Stadium.
Midfielder recruit Jacob Townsend is expected to recover in time for round one after suffering a head knock in the loss to Port Adelaide.
"We had injuries early and they just seemed to continue through the night," Hardwick said on Thursday night.
"Every time we looked up another player was half limping or coming off. It was a tough day for us.
"We've got a couple of scans to wait and see the damage on Shane and Shaun, but Reece has obviously done a hamstring, which is really upsetting.
"He's worked incredibly hard to get back and to see him go down with another one was flattening. We're not sure of the severity at this stage."
Yarran joined the Tigers' VFL squad for an intraclub at Punt Road Oval on Thursday as his rapid return from a calf injury gained momentum.
Hardwick, who had earlier ruled Yarran out for the fist third of the season, said there would be more opportunities for the former Blue to prove his fitness before round one.
"We've got another two games he can play in to stake his claim," the coach said.
"With Reece going down it's a bit of a blessing that he's working towards that (round one)."
Edwards' injury appeared serious when he left Etihad Stadium in the first quarter favouring his left shoulder.
He then left the ground with his arm in a sling to head for scans immediately.
Grigg also sustained his injury in the first quarter before Conca suffered what appeared to be a serious hamstring injury running down the wing.
Townsend was taken from the field on a stretcher after his head cannoned into Hamish Hartlett's elbow in a tackle late in the third quarter.
Hardwick expressed confidence in his midfield stocks, with Anthony Miles to return and Connor Menadue impressing again after a strong pre-season.
Onballer Corey Ellis also pressed his claims to play round one in the VFL intraclub.