Damien Hardwick in 2020 and (inset) Tony Shaw and Leigh Matthews after the 1990 Grand Final. Pictures: AFL Photos

RICHMOND'S Damien Hardwick hopes to end his career as a one-club coach as the Tigers look to lock him down to a new contract.

Hardwick is shooting for an historic third-straight flag with the Tigers this season after steering the club to three of the past four premierships, but falls out of contract at the end of 2021.

Hardwick told AFL.com.au his management had started talks with Tigers chief executive Brendon Gale.


"Paul Connors does my contract and him and Brendon will have a conversation, and they'll go to-and-fro for a bit see where it ends up. I couldn't be happier with where I'm at," he said.

"I've been at a lot of footy clubs and been very lucky to be in footy a long time, but I love the yellow and black. They're just such an incredible organisation but they've got an incredible fan base as well.

"We're very, very fortunate and it's going to be great to get back to some crowds of significance this year.

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"Our players love playing in front of big crowds and one of the big things we speak about is we play for our fans. We said it on Grand Final day, we play for them."

Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin celebrate the 2020 Grand Final with Richmond fans at the Gabba. Picture: AFL Photos

Richmond confirmed in January they had "no concerns" under club policy with Hardwick's new relationship with a club staffer and backed him strongly to remain as their coach, with the club progressing towards a new deal being struck.

Having coached 252 games, Hardwick last year overtook Tom Hafey as the Tigers' all-time longest serving coach and 2021 will be his 12th season at the helm.

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He is behind Alastair Clarkson (16 seasons) as the second longest-serving current coach in the competition and has a 58 per cent winning record, having won 71 out of 95 games in the Tigers' past four golden years.

A fourth premiership would put him alongside Clarkson in the pantheon of all-time greats, including Kevin Sheedy, Leigh Matthews and Hafey.

Alastair Clarkson and Damien Hardwick at a Hawthorn training session in 2007. Picture: AFL Photos

Hardwick said he had considered whether there was a time limit on how long a coach should stay at one club, but that his team of line assistants – Adam Kingsley, Andrew McQualter, Sam Lonergan and Xavier Clarke – were pivotal to his message staying fresh.

"It's interesting. I've certainly asked myself the question. It probably stems from your motivation to do the job at a high level and the ability to reinvigorate and challenge yourself moving forward," he said.

"But what I will say is I've got a wonderful group of assistant coaches who consistently challenge me. Without a word of a lie, I think all of the guys that I've got under me could coach their side in their own right."

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Asked if he could see himself following in the footsteps of the likes of great coaches Sheedy, Matthews, Mick Malthouse, David Parkin, John Kennedy, Ron Barassi and Allan Jeans to be successful coaches at their first club and move to another, Hardwick said he wanted to stay at Punt Road.


"I'd like to end at Richmond," he said.

"It's hard to say but I think the fact of the matter is I just enjoy our environment so much. Footy clubs are a by-product of their people and I'm very lucky to work with wonderful people who make it what it is. You love coming to work every day. We work incredibly hard but we have a lot of fun doing it.

"Win, lose or draw we've had people come into our organisation and you wouldn't be able to tell if we've won or we've lost. We want you walking in with a smile and out with a smile. As soon as it becomes not fun, that's the day I reckon we'll be leaving the building."