RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has used his first day back at Punt Road to address his relationship with a club staffer in front of the Tigers playing group.
As the Tigers returned to pre-season training on Monday, all focus was on the three-time premiership coach, who recently confirmed he had split with wife Danielle last year. He is now in a relationship with a member of the club's administration.
Star forward Jack Riewoldt fronted the media ahead of the Tigers' first full group training session since their premiership win over Geelong last October and admitted his shock at the break-up.
But the Tigers' vice-captain said that Hardwick had confronted the issue with the team and that the focus on his coach would have no influence on the Tigers' quest for three straight flags in 2021.
"I don't think it's going to have any impact, really. Damien's a good enough character to separate his personal life and his professional life and he's shown over the last four years he's been arguably the best coach in the land and he'll continue to support us and we'll continue to support him over the next period of time," Riewoldt said.
"It's hard to say early on, we're back into it, he seemed really strong, so we're excited to get out and train.
"'Dimma' addressed it already this morning and it's business as usual for us. A sign of a good club and a good culture is that we can separate the personal side of things and also get back to work. We understand we've got a job to do and that starts today back at pre-season day one."
Riewoldt said he was surprised when he learned of Hardwick's marriage being over.
"I suppose it does, you never predict something like this. But these things happen in people's lives and we just move on," he said.
"It's obviously sad that Dimma and Danielle's marriage has come to an end because Dimma's obviously been a big part of our football club but the whole Hardwick family has been a massive support network for us and they'll continue to be a support network as we will for them as well.
"You never like to see something like a marriage breakdown and an end but it happens in life and we move on and we continue to support the individuals."
Meanwhile the club will welcome back troubled Tiger Sydney Stack, who spent most of his stint back in Perth behind bars after allegedly breaking strict COVID-19 quarantine rules in Western Australia.
Riewoldt said the club would support the 20-year-old through his challenges and was looking forward to him getting back to Victoria.
"It's been hard for the club to be in touch with him because he's been in jail for the holiday period. It is disappointing as a senior player when someone finds themself in trouble, but when we engaged Sydney to come to our football club we weren't under an illusion that he was going to come in and it was going to be a really smooth transition," Riewoldt said.
"We expected that we were going to have some small issues with him. When you take on a young man like Sydney, who wasn't and hasn't been afforded a lot of the luxuries that a lot of Australian children grow up with, you know it's going to be a project.
"So we're not going to give up on Sydney Stack. He is a young man that has got a lot of issues, he has a lot of potential, but most importantly now we put the football side of things to one side and we actually want to continue to grow him as a young man because he's got some fantastic traits."
The Tigers are unclear when Stack, who has played 26 games for the Tigers in two seasons, will be able to return to the club to train.
His off-field issues last year also included being banned for 10 games and sent home from the club’s Queensland hub after he and teammate Callum Coleman-Jones broke COVID-19 rules and were involved in an altercation on the Gold Coast night strip.