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Hardwick shocked at 'phenomenal' Cotchin's AA snub

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I still maintain the measure of a player is what you do to the players around you, and he's made our players better
Damien Hardwick on Trent Cotchin

RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick says he was surprised to see captain Trent Cotchin miss out on selection in the All Australian squad of 40 after a "phenomenal" season as a leader.

Cotchin has enjoyed arguably his best season in the midfield and his leadership has been lauded as the Tigers rebounded from a horror 2016 to finish in the top four for the first time since 2001.

While Cotchin himself was not concerned by his omission, Hardwick said the selectors' decision had surprised him ahead of Wednesday night's All Australian dinner in Melbourne. 

"I was. I obviously watch him a lot closer than most, and I still maintain the measure of a player is what you do to the players around you, and he's made our players better," Hardwick said on Wednesday.

"The measure of him as a captain has been phenomenal at our footy club this year. 

"He's grown as a leader and I think his presence as a leader on the football field has been incredible.

"I've got no doubt our players jump on his back and he leads from the front. You can't measure that. I see it on a weekly basis."

Cotchin, who has averaged 23.7 possessions in 22 games this season, said his sole focus this season has been leading the Tigers back into finals, not collecting individual accolades.  

"To be honest, if I sat down at the start of the year and you told me that I'd be playing in a (qualifying) final, and that was all to come out of the first couple of weeks of the finals series, I'd have a big smile on my face," he said.

"It's never been about the numbers, it's never been about the individual awards, it's about getting the best out of our group and I feel we're in a pretty strong position."

Richmond is set to welcome back Josh Caddy for the qualifying final against Geelong next Friday night at the MCG, with the club weighing up whether to ease him back from a hamstring injury in the VFL finals this week.   

Hardwick said the former Cat played a "finals brand of footy" and was a big-game player, meaning the club would make at least one change to the team that beat St Kilda by 41 points in round 23.  

The Tigers are unlikely to move away from their small forward structure, with Hardwick declaring it had become the team's preferred set-up.

"I think it's our one-wood now. We look at it and we accept it for what it is," the coach said.  

"They are small but they're certainly quick and they fight like buggery and we've found a second key forward in Jacob Townsend at the moment, he's been incredible.

"We're really excited by the way those guys play and the pressure they put on."