UNCERTAINTY surrounds the futures of Richmond pair Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones at the club after coach Damien Hardwick stopped short of guaranteeing they will be with the Tigers next year.
The Tigers duo were booted out of Queensland after their COVID-19 protocols breach last week and suspended for 10 games each after they were involved in an incident near a Surfers Paradise strip club in the early hours of last Friday.
The indiscretion also cost the Tigers a fine of $100,000 – of which the Tigers have asked Stack and Coleman-Jones to pay $75,000. Talks continue between the club and AFL Players' Association on the paying of the fine.
Both players are signed to the club until the end of 2021, but Hardwick said decisions on their futures will be made deeper into the year.
"That will be determined in due course from our point of view. They're very good players. We're disappointed in the actions so we don't want to sit there and make assertions on what it's going to look like moving forward," the two-time premiership coach said on Wednesday.
"They're Richmond men. We'll support them as best we can."
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Hardwick said he was "incredibly disappointed" when he found out about the breaches early last Friday morning and that it had blemished Richmond's image.
"Respect is very hard to earn but it's easy to lose, and we've probably lost a bit at the moment. We understand that, but the important thing for us is that we have to continue to rebuild our reputation," he said.
"It's been tarnished, there's no doubt about that. But it's our job as an organisation to stand forward and continue to put our best foot forward and move in the right direction."
The off-field controversy has taken the spotlight off Richmond's huge contest with Geelong on Friday night at Metricon Stadium, in what is an ultra-important game in both clubs' bids for top-four spots.
But Hardwick, who said he had last spoken with the suspended pair on Monday, didn't believe the distraction would have an impact on the game.
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"I wouldn't think so. The proof will be in the pudding. We've addressed it internally. The guys are incredibly disappointed and have brought the whole club into a situation we didn't want to be in," he said.
"The reality is we've found ourselves here and we have to continue to move forward. It's disappointing, we feel it's not reflective of us as a group."
Kane Lambert (hip) and Dylan Grimes (hamstring) are set to return for the clash with the Cats, while David Astbury (knee) will likely play in the club's scrimmage game after picking up his training.
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Meanwhile the Tigers are hopeful of a return for Dion Prestia in the finals as he recovers from his ankle injury. Prestia is aiming to play some of a scrimmage game during the pre-finals bye week.
"He's moving really well. We think he's turned the corner, we're really excited by his progress and Dion himself is a lot more bullish about where he's at now," Hardwick said.