RICHMOND is set to welcome back dual Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin and Liam Baker among up to four changes to the side that suffered a disappointing loss to Hawthorn last week.
The Tigers have just one win through three rounds and are yet to salute since the season resumed, having also shared the points with Collingwood a fortnight ago.
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Martin returns to face St Kilda on Saturday after missing the Hawks clash with rib soreness, while Baker briefly returned home to Western Australia after losing a family member.
"I think the week off no doubt helped him," Hardwick said of Martin.
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"From our point of view, it was always touch and go last week but he's such an important player to the way we play – we just want to make sure he's right.
"He's a bit of a barometer for us as well, so we need to make sure we're giving him the best chance to play to the very best of his ability.
"It was just a rotational-type thing. Ribs are really difficult at various stages. There are some times when you can numb the pain and then there are times when you can't quite get the spot."
Hardwick hinted Martin was still not 100 per cent but the champion midfielder-forward has proven remarkably durable throughout his career.
His return is timely, given the coach's frustration at the "disconnect" between his midfielders and forwards, which was a problem in each of the past two rounds.
However, Hardwick was less concerned with triple Coleman medallist Jack Riewoldt's form despite him kicking a total of three goals and averaging fewer than eight disposals.
"Once again, our ball movement will certainly help," he said.
"People are quick to jump on a champion's back – people forget he kicked five goals in the Grand Final, on the biggest stage on earth, so he's a very good player.
"The key forwards, in general, have been struggling throughout the League at the moment, so we're not too worried about it. The sky's certainly not falling down, from our point of view."
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Commentary around opposition wingers Josh Daicos and Isaac Smith Hardwick enjoying success against his team also didn't bother Hardwick ahead of a meeting with star Saint Bradley Hill.
"That's the last couple of years. Wings always have a good game against us," he said.
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"We play a certain style with our wings, we're happy with our system and the way it goes, so numbers are numbers.
"There are certain numbers you can look at and possessions you can look at but we look at the win-loss column.
"It's cost-benefit from our point of view and sides will get an advantage in one way but we'll get an advantage in another."