RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick believes the Tigers can extend their era of dominance next year despite being all but out of the running of this year's finals series.
The Tigers dropped at least a win outside of the top eight with their 39-point loss to Greater Western Sydney on Friday night and require West Coast to lose its remaining two games, as well as a number of other results to fall their way, if they are to make the finals this season.
It comes after a rich period in the club's history that has seen them net the 2017, 2019-20 premierships and reach the preliminary final in 2018, but Hardwick said the Tigers could regroup if they miss the top eight this year and challenge again in 2022.
"I'd hope so. The situation is for us if we have a good pre-season I think we'll be a hell of a lot better. It's been a tough road, three of the last four years being long and deep into September and then to have the last year that we've had," he said after the defeat to the Giants.
"I'm not going to lie, this year's been as hard as it's ever been and whoever wins it this year is going to have an enormous tick beside their club.
"If our guys do refresh, regenerate a couple of things, get some young talent in and invest in the talent we've already got, I think we'll be reasonably placed to have another crack."
Richmond has won just two of its past nine games in a second half of the season slump, with its list hit by injuries to key players across all parts of the ground including a season-ending kidney injury to matchwinner Dustin Martin.
Hardwick identified the NAB AFL Draft as the club's likely off-season focus and said there was no issue with the team's hunger, with a longer pre-season period without a finals series a possible silver lining of not making the top eight.
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"We haven't had a lot of luck on the injury front this year," Hardwick said.
"The seasons are tough but they're tough on every club and some clubs handle it better than others and we probably haven't done as well as we'd have liked this year for a variety of reasons. But I've got no doubt we'll bounce back."
The Giants will be bolstered by the return of superstar forward Toby Greene for next week's clash with Carlton as they try to lock in a finals berth, while they will also weight a recall for skipper Stephen Coniglio.
Coach Leon Cameron said the club had feared Coniglio's season could be over with his toe injury but he played in a scratch match on Friday and performed well.
"He got through 60 minutes of footy against Richmond in a scratch match today," Cameron said.
"We have to see how he's going. He then ran some really good kilometres afterwards so it's a good step in the right direction which is fantastic because, I'll be totally honest, a week or so ago it wasn't looking as great and maybe he might not be able to even get back and play footy this year.
"But [it was] a really, really good and successful return today and he can build on that and start to put pressure on our match committee again which is good because it means everyone is fighting for spots."