RICHMOND has embraced the challenge of flying in and out of Perth twice in nine days as it confronts a gruelling travel schedule following Saturday night's Dreamtime win at Optus Stadium.
The Tigers were boarding a late-night flight from Perth to Sydney on Saturday night after their 39-point win against the Bombers but will return to WA to face West Coast in just eight days' time.
That match was brought forward from round 14 on Saturday due to border restrictions and quarantine requirements that prevented the Tigers from returning home to Melbourne between the two matches at Optus Stadium.
They will instead set up base in Sydney as they aim to win three straight matches for the first time this season, having seen off a challenge from the brave Bombers on Saturday night.
"Our guys have done this, they did the Brisbane job last year and they look at it as a positive to be around the group and connect," Hardwick said of the looming travel challenge.
"That's really exciting for us. Our players quite enjoy the aspect of going away and spending some time together. That's not to say we don't miss home and we don't miss people we've left at home.
"We've got an understanding of what each state offers and we don't make those decisions, we just abide by the rules.
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"We're prepared to do anything we can to keep the season going and keep the fans at home watching a great game of footy."
Hardwick was kicking himself early in the fourth quarter on Saturday night after forgetting to prepare his players defensively for an early surge from the Bombers in the final term.
The Bombers kicked three quick goals to take the lead before Richmond seized the momentum back and kicked a run of seven unanswered goals to record their seventh consecutive Dreamtime win.
"It was a bit of a … not an error on my part, but we sort of knew Essendon would push hard forward at three-quarter time into the last quarter," Hardwick said.
"I forgot to mention that to the players, and it probably caught us off guard a little bit with regard to our defensive set-up for that.
"I was a little bit disappointed in myself, but the players got it together by the end and we managed to get the result."
Hardwick endorsed Optus Stadium as a venue for any future marquee games that needed to be relocated after the Western Australian public packed the ground with 55,656 spectators.
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He said he had no complaints about the surface, despite players slipping repeatedly and changing their footwear before adjusting to the conditions.
Midfielder Dion Prestia was substituted out of the game in the fourth quarter complaining of hamstring tightness and is in doubt for the West Coast clash, Hardwick said.
Essendon midfielder Andrew McGrath, meanwhile, suffered a knee injury and will require scans before the extent of damage is known.
"We're not sure how long we'll miss him. He hurt us tonight," Essendon coach Ben Rutten said.
"We have the bye next week and we have a few guys with a few niggles. They'll get a chance to recover and refresh."
Essendon looked destined for a thrilling come-from-behind win for the second straight week when it took the lead for the first time early in the final quarter.
But Rutten said the Tigers' ability to get on top around the stoppages late proved crucial, as well as their ability to punish Essendon's mistakes.
"I thought we created enough opportunities, but we're not good enough to be able to nail them against the best opposition," he said.
"Not only didn't we take the opportunities, but we gave it back to them and their effectiveness with the ball was at a level we haven't seen this year."
Rutten said Yiooken Trophy winner Darcy Parish, who had a club-record 44 disposals, had delivered on the significant room for improvement he identified with the midfielder during the pre-season.
"I felt he had 30 per cent growth in him in his game and we're starting to see that," Rutten said.
"He has a lot of confidence at the moment and some belief in his body, which he worked on over the off-season. Now he is transferring that onto game day."