GUN DEFENDER Dylan Grimes could make an earlier than expected return for Richmond's heavyweight clash with Geelong next Friday.
The Tigers notched another win on Wednesday night in a tight struggle against Fremantle until a late flurry of goals stretched the final margin to 27 points.
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But after their ninth win in 11 games the Tigers will rapidly shift their focus to next week's important clash with their fellow premiership fancies.
They are also set to be bolstered by the return of some key players, with midfielder Kane Lambert (hip) and backman Grimes likely inclusions against the red-hot Cats.
"Lambert will play next week and we think Grimes will be available as well which is another positive," Hardwick said after the win over the Dockers.
"Then Shane [Edwards] comes out of the [transition] hub for the Adelaide game (in round 18) and we think Dave Astbury will be thereabouts hopefully then.
"We've got some guys who are coming back but we need those guys to jell. They haven't played together for a long period of time but they are very good players."
The scratchy victory was Richmond's seventh in Queensland this year and they haven't been beaten in the state since round one, 2014.
On the day the AFL announced this year's Grand Final would be staged at the Gabba, Hardwick joked it was a "great result" the game wasn't fixtured for Cairns – where the Tigers have endured some stinging losses in the past – but couldn't be drawn on the potential advantage of their home away from home.
"We love playing up here, we love being up here. It's a real positive for us. Our guys have really embraced it and we've got two fantastic stadiums," he said.
Meanwhile, Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir was disappointed by the final score in the mid-week clash, after the Dockers had gotten to within six points of the Tigers at three-quarter time.
"They scored pretty heavily in the last quarter but especially the second and third quarters I think we should have made more of our opportunities," he said.
"The scoreboard probably shouldn't have looked like it did at three-quarter time. That's been an issue for us all year and especially the last six weeks.
"Even though we've had some good wins in that period I still think we haven't capitalised on our dominance and we didn't do that again tonight."