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Tiger rookies are 'injury replacement players': Hardwick

Hardwick on the Tigers' expectations Richmond coach talks exclusively to
(We) look at those mature-age players that we get on the rookie list as injury replacement players
Damien Hardwick
RICHMOND'S mature-age drafting during the off-season has left it well equipped to handle any injury curveballs in 2014, according to coach Damien Hardwick.
The Tigers took a fresh look at their rookie list strategy last year and now view their rookies, who mostly have past AFL experience, as "injury replacement players" rather than development prospects.  
They also used two of their three NAB AFL Draft selections to recruit mature-age players, selecting former Sydney Swans half-forward Nathan Gordon and VFL goalkicker Sam Lloyd.
When injury struck, Hardwick said there would be more value in calling on mature-age players than blooding teenagers who might not be ready to perform at the top level.
"The thing we've done and we've probably looked at over the course of a number of years is the chances of rookie list players making it are probably relatively slim," Hardwick told
"What we've tried to do is come up with a strategy where we still keep our picks in the national draft but then look at those mature-age players that we get on the rookie list as injury replacement players.
"Players that, for example, if we do lose Reece Conca we've got a mature-age player we can put in while he recovers."
Richmond added Todd Banfield (ex-Brisbane Lions), Anthony Miles (ex-Greater Western Sydney) and Matt Thomas (ex-Port Adelaide) to its rookie list in the off-season, with the trio joining 31-year-old ruckman Orren Stephenson.
Midfielder Cadeyn Williams, 19, and key defender Ben Darrou, 20, are the only developing prospects on the rookie list after they were retained for a second and third year respectively.
"[The mature-age approach] is probably a stopgap measure … but then we've got guys like Ricky Petterd, who did a terrific job for us last year and has forced his way onto the list," Hardwick said.
"Matt Thomas and Todd Banfield are two capable players, Orren Stephensen the same … they're quite capable of playing week-in, week-out.
"So we're quite pleased that those guys have made a significant contribution over the last couple of years."