RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick is adamant the Tigers don't need to rebuild and can bounce forward from a difficult 2021 season.

The Tigers are facing their first season without finals football since 2016, after struggling through injuries to key players and inconsistent form.

Dustin Martin's season-ending kidney laceration in July struck a hammer blow to Richmond's three-peat hopes, as did long-term injuries to Nathan Broad, Noah Balta and the retiring Bachar Houli.

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Trent Cotchin, Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia, Kane Lambert and Toby Nankervis also had multiple injury setbacks.

"What could go wrong, did go wrong this year," Hardwick said.

Richmond's Dylan Grimes and Toby Nankervis after the loss to Geelong in R19, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

"We started off reasonably well, we hung tough for a while but it just became all too much with regard to injury and form and just couldn't quite get our season back on track.

"We think when all our troops are back, they come back healthy mentally and physically refreshed, but also some of our young talent we think we'll get some better training into over the course of pre-season and then obviously with our draft hand we're very excited also.

"I don't think by any stretch of the imagination it will be a rebuild. It will be a little bit of regeneration."

Hardwick flagged Richmond's 'generation next' youngsters would be tested against Hawthorn on Saturday and expected retiring defender David Astbury would return from a quad injury to play what's set to be his final match.

Richmond's David Astbury in action against Fremantle in R20, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The long-term Tigers coach planned to "sit back and reflect" on what he could have done better in 2021 but was confident this season's drop-off wasn't the end of the current Tigers group.

"We haven't got all the answers all the time but the reality is we learn more from our mistakes and our hiccups along the way," he said.

"Look at season 2016 and without season 2016, we don't get 2017.

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"Without season 2018 we don't get to 2019 and '20.

"Without this year - well, who knows what we get next year.

"A lot of people will write us off and say we're over but the fact of the matter is, people have written those stories before ... So the challenge is firmly set, we accept that but it's one we look forward to."

Trent Cotchin and Damien Hardwick embrace after winning the 2020 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Hardwick said Cotchin would make the final decision on whether he would retain the captaincy - but in his own eyes there was "no question" the 31-year-old was the right man to lead the Tigers.

"They're conversations we'll have over the course of summer but we're in no rush to have them at this stage," he said.

Meanwhile, Hardwick said there was no update into the investigation of a photo of Prestia appearing to participate in an outdoor takeaway drink pub crawl in Richmond last Saturday.