RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has pleaded with his club's fans not to boo Jobe Watson and other Essendon players on Saturday night.

Watson has been the subject of regular taunts from opposition supporters since his admission on Fox Footy's On the Couch program that he took what he believed to be the banned substance AOD-9604.

Following the announcement of heavy penalties against Essendon on Tuesday night, Hardwick appeared on the Tigers' website, asking supporters to show respect for the Bombers skipper.

"They're obviously going through a period that is unfamiliar to their club," Hardwick told on Wednesday afternoon.

"The one thing that I'd ask our supporters in the best interest of the respect and responsibility of our footy club is to refrain from booing Jobe [Watson] and the Essendon players as much as we can.

"[We] understand they're our opposition, but they also earn our respect.

"They were put in a situation they didn't want to be in, so let's just bring our best game where we can.

"We still want to win, we're still very driven to win, but let's play the game fair."

After Watson was repeatedly booed during Essendon's six-point win over Carlton last weekend, now-suspended coach James Hird said he didn't understand why the Brownlow medallist was still being targeted.

"If someone could answer what he's being booed for that would be interesting," Hird said.

"I think the misguided nature of what he was being booed for against West Coast [in round 14] has been cleared up, and what happened around that substance (AOD-9604).

"That seems to me to be cleared up, so I'm not sure why he's being booed.

"If someone could tell me why, it would be great."

The AFL maintains that AOD-9604 was a WADA banned substance during the period in which the Bombers' supplements program was undertaken, while the club believes it was not.