MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Tigers coach Damien Hardwick speaks to the media during a press conference after the 2017 AFL Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 30, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Richmond have begun talks with out-of-contract coach Damien Hardwick in regards to a new multi-year deal to remain at Punt Road, per The Herald Sun

The Tigers are coming off the back of their third premiership in four years under Hardwick, who first joined Richmond in August 2009 and faced a difficult start to his tenure.

The former Bombers and Power premiership player has been heavily scrutinised this off-season after beginning a relationship with a fellow staff member of the club.

The Tigers have since stated that the relationship doesn't violate the club's policy and will now look to pen the 48-year-old to a new deal, who ended the club's 37-year premiership drought in 2017.

Richmond players have come forward expressing their support for their mentor, who will now look to win a third-straight flag in the AFL.

Meanwhile, star duo Dion Prestia and Bachar Houli will be racing against the clock to be fit for the Tigers' Round 1 clash against the Blues next month.

Houli injured his calf during the opening quarter of the 2020 Grand Final and played through the match before seeking treatment following the season decider, but is now struggling to return to fitness this pre-season.

“He did a fair job of it (calf injury) to be honest. In the warm up he reported a bit of an issue with it, and the first five minutes it wasn’t any good,” Tigers’ high performance chief Peter Burge said, per The Herald Sun.

“He could barely walk on it the next day.

“But it has just been really difficult to get to each (new) stage (in the recovery) with it.

“He’s had a few hiccups along the way and we are battling a little bit to be honest, with it.

“It is very hard for us to put a time frame on it and I don’t want to rule him out for Round 1, but he has got some work to do before then.”

Prestia is set to return to training next week after sustaining a minor ankle injury during match simulation.

The 28-year-old played just the eight games in 2020 after suffering from syndesmosis.

 

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