DAVID Teague has revealed that Richmond's triple-premiership coach Damien Hardwick reached out earlier this week to offer his support, as Carlton continues to weigh up whether he will remain at the club next season.
The Blues board will meet on Thursday night to discuss the findings of an external review into the club's football department, which is likely to focus on Teague's future at the helm after another disappointing campaign that will end without finals.
Hardwick went through a similar situation towards the end of the 2016 season, but survived a mass overhaul of Richmond's football department and ultimately went on to help the club break its lengthy premiership drought one year later.
Teague is hopeful Carlton's board comes to a similar conclusion when it decides his fate over the coming weeks, saying it was "comforting" to have a three-time premiership winner in his corner.
"I'm coping OK," Teague said.
"There's a fair bit going on. I'm super proud of the way our coaching staff, football club and football administration have gelled together and kept turning up. Inside the four walls in here, it's a really good place at the moment in terms of coming in to get your job done.
"I've had a few other coaches reach out to me and (the other night) Damien Hardwick reached out to me. He talked about Richmond's courage to back him in when things weren't going well in 2016. He went through a similar thing.
"It gives you confidence and I'm really hopeful that our club backs me in and has the courage to stick to the cause and to finish what we've started.
"I've said all along, I really believe in what we're doing. I believe in this playing group and where we're going. The reassurance to have someone like 'Dimma' to reach out and to understand what I'm going through, it's really nice and comforting."
Carlton will play Port Adelaide in its penultimate game of the season on Saturday evening, with Teague saying he doesn't expect the club's board to have an answer on his future by then.
"I'm committed to doing this season and next at the moment," Teague said.
"They're going to get the review tonight, so I dare so they'll need a bit of time to ponder that. But I'm planning to coach out the season and that's what I'll do. I'll do that to the best of my ability and with the support of the guys around me.
"I'm really confident that I'm the guy to take this club forward. I believe in myself and I believe in the people here and the players."
The speculation surrounding Teague's future has been magnified over the last three weeks, following disappointing losses to wooden spoon favourites North Melbourne and a severely out-of-form Gold Coast.
It has seen the Blues plummet out of finals contention and has meant Teague's record has stretched to a disappointing 21-27 since taking the reins of the club as interim coach midway through the 2019 season.
However, the Blues coach – who remains contracted for 2022 after signing a three-year deal when he took the job full-time – says the progression of the group has been "normal" given their record before he was appointed in a caretaker role.
"The speculation around it all has probably been intensified," Teague said.
"When I took over, I think we'd won four of 44. Now we're 21 of our last 48. In terms of progression, I think that's probably normal. Would we love to have won more? Yes. Would we love to have been more consistent throughout games in different areas? Yes. But it's a learning curve and it's a journey and we're on that. I've said all along, I'm really comfortable with where it's going.
"To perform at your best, you need a psychologically safe environment. Right now, that's a challenge for us with everything that's going on. I really commend all of the players and staff with the way they keep fronting up and bringing great effort in an environment which is a bit challenging.
"That's what the AFL throws at you, but we'll keep turning up and focusing on what we can control and being our best."
Reports emerged earlier this week about Teague's relationship with senior players deteriorating in recent weeks, though the Carlton coach rejected the speculation and pointed to key re-signings as evidence that things were on the right track.
"I'm really comfortable with the relationships that I have with the players," Teague said.
"I feel it's one of my strengths as a coach. Don't get me wrong, there are players who at times you have to challenge and they don't like it. There are players that want to play AFL football, but aren't in the team.
"There are always going to be some challenging and some conflicting conversations that occur. But the overall feel, in terms of relationships, I have no issue with where that's at. I have absolutely belief that the players believe in me and where the club is going at the moment.
"If you look at Harry McKay, Jacob Weitering, Patrick Cripps – who have all re-signed – they're signing because they believe in the direction of this football club. When they're signing, they're signing because they believed I was part of that."