MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Alex Rance of the Tigers and Damien Hardwick, coach of the Tigers wave to the crowd during the 2017 AFL Grand Final Parade ahead of the Grand Final between the Adelaide Crows and the Richmond Tigers, on September 29, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Tigers coach Damian Hardwick has given up hope for a potential return from star defender Alex Rance for the 2020 season.

Rance’s shock retirement in December still failed to halt rumours of a return to the game, while he looked to spend more time with family and explore his faith.

“Yeah I have (given up hope that Rance will come back this year), he’s got a greater purpose in life right now with his family and faith,” Hardwick told SEN Breakfast..

“I don’t sit there and say I understand the decision, but I support the man. He’s been a terrific servant for us, he’ll always be a Richmond man and he is always welcome at our footy club.

“We’ve got 41 of 42 players who can help us right here, right now so there’s no point looking in the rear vision mirror, we’ve got to continue to look forward and continue to develop our next premiership side which is hopefully not too far away.”

Out-of-contract Collingwood defender Darcy Moore was linked to the Tigers earlier in the week as a potential replacement for Rance, with Hardwick denying any connection of the sought.

“It popped up by surprise, I got a text on my family WhatsApp about what’s going on with Darcy Moore and I said, ‘what are you talking about?’” he said.

“This time of year, things get thrown around and clubs get linked and it’s a bit of a slow news week, so nothing in that one at this stage.

“There’s a lot of nice replacements (for Rance) out there, it would also be nice to have Alex back to be perfectly honest.

“We’ve got some terrific young talent that is coming through. We’re really excited by Noah Balta who has got a little way to go, Ryan Garthwaite as well. We’ve got some replacements that will come through and help us long-term.”