Tom Lynch on the bench during Richmond's round four match against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG on April 8, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick scoffed at suggestions Tom Lynch could be in trouble for the incident which resulted in Alex Keath's concussion, while he slammed the "farcical" rules that led to them naming Trent Cotchin outside of their 22.

Hardwick was in a combative mood after the Tigers blew a 14-point half-time lead to lose by five points against the Western Bulldogs on a rainy Saturday afternoon at the MCG.

The result left the Tigers with only one win from their opening four games, while they have some fresh concerns with Jack Graham injuring his left hamstring, while Lynch spent time off the ground too.

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But Lynch could face Match Review Officer scrutiny for the bump in a marking contest that led to Keath's first-quarter substitution for concussion.

Keath backed into a marking contest between Lynch and Dogs defender Liam Jones before a collision with the Tigers forward. Replays appeared to show Lynch didn't contest the mark, nor was he pushed by Jones, rather opting for contact with the prone Keath.


But Hardwick was far from impressed when questioned about the incident, nor the suggestion that the clash could attract a ban having been scrutinised on the TV broadcast.

"What for?" Hardwick retorted when asked about suspension concerns from the incident. "In a marking contest? Who knows... For being tough in the contest? I wouldn't have thought.

"It was raised on the broadcast? I've listened to the broadcast recently, they're not great."

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said he hadn't seen the incident and subsequently preferred to offer no opinion on it.

Hardwick admitted Lynch may have another concern on the injury front, having sat out almost 10 minutes in the second quarter before playing the game out, stating he was uncertain if he'd be available next week.


The Tigers coach also clarified utilising former skipper Trent Cotchin as the sub was always their plan, having been listed in the Thursday teams out of their 22 due to being "managed".

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Hardwick lamented the League's requirements for teams to submit their final 22s, rather than the 23-man squad including the sub, which he claimed made the Cotchin decision seem a bigger deal than it was.

"We've got to name people out of the 23 for god knows what reason," Hardwick said. "It'd be nice if the AFL could do something about that so it doesn't create a big story, if that makes sense.

"I think it's ridiculous that we've got to do it and we need to get it fixed. It's farcical that we've got to do it."


Hardwick said Richmond had been in touch with the AFL for the past two years to complain about the requirement which he called "baffling".

The Tigers coach also rested veteran forward Jack Riewoldt, admitting Geelong was a blueprint for player management in 2022 when it managed older players like Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood before winning the flag.

"It's a copycat league, with the way they did it," Hardwick said. "Some of our players are getting that way inclined with their age.

"We've got guys that are mid-30s so they're not going to be able to play every game. The players have got a good understanding of that.

"It's one thing our industry hasn't got their head around. We want to keep the good players going for longer, so it means they're not going to play 22 games. The game is as hard as it's ever been.

"We can sit there and keep trying to do it and we can keep getting injuries or we can try manage those guys and get them right for hopefully the point end of the season."


As for the defeat, Hardwick rued his side's work around clearances, which the Dogs won 41-26, along with 16-8 at centre clearances.

"There's some things we liked but there's some things we're disappointed with," Hardwick said.

"You've got to beat the Dogs in clearance, that's their one wood. Today we were disappointing in that facet of the game.

"Centre clearance is so important on a wet day, we go down 8-16. It summarises the game really. You're attacking from the back half."

Beveridge hailed his side's "intestinal fortitude" for responding after seeing a 29-point lead dissolve into a 14-point half-time deficit following Richmond's scintillating eight-goal second quarter.

"It was so important that we did reset and that the players believed we could do it," he said.

"Part of the process was re-investing in what had worked well early and understanding what had happened in that 10 to 12-minute period.

"There's no doubt there was a slight drop off in some of our intensity and no doubt Richmond's individual brilliance and they were rampaging taking their opportunities left, right and centre, whether it was Dustin Martin or Shai Bolton. They really bounced it out of their half-back area too easily."


Beveridge hailed the clearance work of onballer Tom Liberatore, who will play his 200th game next week, along with ruckman Tim English.

"Tom has just been enormous," he said. "What he does to our team and our club is significant. It'll be great to salute him and celebrate the fact he's going to get the double century.

"Tim is really progressing. He showed tremendous leadership this afternoon. I thought he had a huge influence on the game. As the game wore on, he became even more critical. The first part of that last quarter he had some significant moments. I think he's had a really start to the year."