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No rift with coach: Cotchin

No rift with coach: Cotchin

RICHMOND captain Trent Cotchin insists his relationship with Damien Hardwick remains tight despite a tumultuous off-season for the three-time AFL premiership coach.

Hardwick’s private life has made tabloid headlines since the Tigers completed a stunning grand final victory over Geelong last October.

The Tigers mentor left his wife Danielle and is now in a relationship with a club staffer.

The breakdown of Hardwick’s marriage sparked speculation of a rift between him and Cotchin.

The star midfielder’s wife Brooke is close friends with Danielle and has expressed support for her in social media posts.

However, Cotchin said he and Brooke would look out for all members of the Hardwick family and believed the Tigers were focused on their tilt at a third- straight premiership.

Hardwick’s first order of business when returning to the club from his off-field break was to talk to players about his marriage breakdown.

“What ‘Dimma’ (Hardwick) and I have worked through for a number of years now is really unique and special,” Cotchin told reporters.

“Like anything we will support he, Danielle and the kids.

“No one likes seeing a family breakdown in any sort of way so it’s been a challenging time for all but it’s a private matter.

“I think Dimma even spoke (on radio) that he highly encourages everyone to support Danielle. That’s just the reality of the situation.”

Richmond overcame significant off-field hurdles while in the Queensland hub last season and still won the premiership.

Cotchin claims the Tigers are used to the added scrutiny and will not let that be a distraction ahead of their round one clash with Carlton.

“I think that’s just been the journey that Richmond’s been on for a couple of years now,” the 30-year-old said.

“It seems as though anything and everything that happens either within these four walls or outside of it is a story.”

Cotchin claimed the Tigers do not need to look far for motivation and had not spoken about attempting to emulate the Brisbane Lions and Hawthorn as teams to have won three-straight flags this century.

“We don’t typically look at stories outside of what we can control but those teams were exceptional in their own eras,” Cotchin said.

Veteran defender Bachar Houli and Dion Prestia have been on modified training programs as they recover from injuries and are in doubt to face the Blues at the MCG on March 18.

(C) AAP 2021