The Richmond senior coaching job has been one of the most discussed and sought-after roles in recent times.
Hardwick's departure threw a spanner in the works at Tigerland, with the club hurrying to find a possible replacement.
While he was still employed by the Punt Road club, Adam Kingsley's name was thrown around as a possible successor to the triple flag-winning mentor. Kinglsey, now the head coach of the Giants, has guided GWS to a preliminary final berth and is probably the competition's coach of the year.
Adam Yze, who deputises to senior coach Simon Goodwin, has been a staple of the Melbourne coaching staff since 2021 after an outstanding tenure at Hawthorn from 2014 through to the end of 2020.
The long-time assistant was previously linked with Essendon at the end of 2022, as well as the Giants' job, before ultimately being passed up in favour of Brad Scott and Adam Kingsley, respectively. He was also in the running for the Collingwood job at the end of 2021 before losing out to Craig McRae.
It's understood McQualter and Yze will give their final presentations to the Tigers' higher-ups in the next 48 hours.
McQualter has garnered a lot of support from Richmond after proving he could lead the side at AFL level.
Despite back-to-back straight-set exits for the Demons in 2022 and 2023, Yze is a highly regarded coaching mind and has well and truly grabbed Richmond's attention. The club was reportedly impressed by Yze's presentation given during the pre-finals bye week.
McQualter had a poor end to the 2023 season as coach, losing four out of the last five games. His total record as head coach was seven wins and six losses.
Despite this record, the Tigers have remained adamant that their decision would not be made based on his short-term results. His connection to the players is evident, especially the youth whom he coached at VFL level.
Both on and on-field, he is a well-liked presence at the club, which has its appeal to the Richmond hierarchy in handing over the mentoring reigns permanently.
Yze's links to the Tigers have been supported by his current club, Melbourne. In late August, the Dees confirmed Yze's ties to the yellow and black, openly supporting and praising him.
Speaking to the ABC before Melbourne's semi-final clash with the Blues, Yze discussed the process he continues to work his way through.
"(The Tigers) have been terrific," said Yze.
"They allowed me to have my presentation the week we had off leading into finals, and the next meeting I have with them is next week.
"That (meeting) is the last one I will present to and then they will make a decision after that. I have really enjoyed it (the process).
"I really enjoyed the processes I went through last year with both clubs (GWS and Essendon) and this has been no different. It tests you. It puts you in a scenario and shows your vulnerabilities, and I have really enjoyed the process and am really proud of the way I have presented.
"I just know I have a presentation early next week and then they will get back to me on that."
Richmond is expected to make its decision prior to the 2023 AFL Grand Final, scheduled to take place on the final Saturday of the month, September 30.
A swift integration should allow the Tigers' new boss to prepare with the club's list management department for this year's off-season player movement period.
The 2023 trade period commences on October 9, following free agency's commencement on October 6.