RICHMOND is now searching for up to five new assistant coaches after midfield stoppages coach Brendon Lade accepted a role with his former club Port Adelaide.
Lade, who was interviewed in Adelaide this week and accepted a long-term deal, joins fellow assistants Greg Mellor, Ross Smith and premiership coach Mark Williams in heading for the exit at Punt Road.
Lade's return to Alberton on a three-year deal was confirmed by the club on Monday.
"It's a pretty exciting mix of big men," Lade said on the club's website.
"Paddy Ryder is so athletic and versatile, Matt Lobbe is your traditional workhorse, we all saw what Jackson Trengove was able to do when called on last season and then there's Billy Frampton who's really progressing well despite a few injury setbacks.
"The chance to work with Ken and his coaching team was ... a big factor in me deciding to make the move. During the interview process I was really impressed with his footy philosophy and the plans he has for the playing group."
The future of Mark P. Williams is also unclear, with the Tigers yet to confirm what role he will play at the club in 2017.
The departures leave the highly rated Ben Rutten as Hardwick's only remaining assistant coach, with development coaches Ryan Ferguson and Andrew McQualter also still at the club.
Interviews for the group's replacements are under way and will continue when incoming football manager Neil Balme starts in his new role on Monday.
The club has met already with assistant coaches Brett Montgomery and Blake Caracella, who are both completing the AFL's Level Four accreditation course.
Lade, who replaces former Port Adelaide assistant Garry Hocking, returns to the club he played 234 games with as a premiership ruckman.
A former teammate of Hardwick's, Lade joined the Tigers ahead of the 2010 season and has held roles as ruck, midfield and midfield stoppages coach.
Aaron Greaves will move from his joint ruck/development role into a full-time position as Port Adelaide's head of football development.
The Tigers face a challenge in filling up to five vacancies but could turn to retired defender Troy Chaplin, who impressed in the last six weeks of the season in an off-field role assisting the coaches.