MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Damien Hardwick, Senior Coach of the Tigers looks on during the 2018 AFL First Qualifying Final match between the Richmond Tigers and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 06, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Richmond were rocked by another off-field bombshell to start 2021, with coach Damien Hardwick splitting from wife Danielle and now seeing a fellow employee of the club.

While Hardwick has the backing of his players, Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes believes the headlines could cause a rift in the club as they aim for a third-consecutive flag this year.

Speaking on SEN SA BreakfastCornes stated that the scenario might "derail" the Tigers' 2021 campaign.

“Some off-season controversies, a little bit sensitive to speak about marriage breakdowns,” Cornes said on SEN.

“There were three of them, certainly well documented in the press. Nathan Buckley, Simon Goodwin and Damien Hardwick, the most controversial of those.

“I get the feeling it’s going to divide the Richmond Footy Club, there is no doubt about that, because of the fact Damien’s relationship is with a staff member from the football club.

“Also, Brooke Cotchin, the wife of Trent, has been pretty publicly supportive of Damien Hardwick’s ex-wife Danielle.

“I’m not sure how Richmond will function this year. I think it’s going to be awkward and it does threaten to derail their season and end the dynasty which has been at Richmond.

“So I’ll watch that one play out.”

The Tigers will open their 2021 account in traditional fashion when they face the Blues on Thursday, March 18 at the MCG, where they will unveil their 2019 and 2020 premiership flags.