Richmond Tigers Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Richmond senior coach, Damien Hardwick gives directions during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at Punt Road Oval on April 07, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Richmond head coach Damien Hardwick has shouldered the blame for his side's heartbreaking two-point loss to the Gold Coast Suns last Saturday.

"It was challenging, there's no question, but the fact of the matter is I didn't prepare the players well enough," he said speaking at a media conference on Thursday.

"Our structure itself was OK, but the philosophy, our players probably just didn't execute to the level that we'd require.

"There's no harder space to be in the last two minutes when you've got to try and save a game, winning games is a little bit easier ... trying to save it is tough, especially if you've got four or five minutes to go.

"It's never quite as good as you seem or as bad as you seem"

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The Tigers will go in as strong favourites for their clash with North Melbourne this Saturday afternoon, who will play under interim coach Leigh Adams for the first time.

Hardwick previewed the contest by confirming that Trent Cotchin (clavicle), Noah Balta (hamstring) and Nick Vlastuin (suspension) will all be available to play.

"They're effectively assistant coaches. From our point of view it's great to have them back. They make our side better," Hardwick continued.

"But unfortunately we lose some out the other side".

The Tigers will again be without Dustin Martin who won't play this week due to a hamstring injury. Hardwick remains "reasonably confident" that he'll push for next week, but again Martin remains in the "doubtful category" at this stage.

He also confirmed that Tom Lynch will miss up to three weeks with the same concern, while Ivan Soldo is due to miss out this week and Toby Nankervis "might be a chance" to play.

Ahead of their clash with the Kangaroos, Hardwick declared North Melbourne a very good contested ball side and that the Tigers will need to be up for the fight.

"Most clubs respond accordingly (after David Noble's departure)," he continued.

"We've got to make sure were up for the fight.

"We know where the game will be won and lost against north... it's in the clinches. They're a really good contested ball side. They control the ball through the back half then move the ball through the corridor and fast out the back... we know how they play.

"Whether they play that way under Leigh? We're not too sure."

Richmond have only lost three games since Round 6, all by a combined total of just 11 points, yet they find themselves clinging on to eighth position (36 points) on the ladder with St Kilda (also 36 points) knocking on the door in ninth.

Hardwick acknowledged the evenness of the competition, declaring the Tigers were among those teams well in the hunt for a shot at the premiership.

"We know our best is good enough ... we certainly feel we're in the frame," he said.

"I look at the competition at the moment as wide open, there's up to 12 sides I still think can personally win it and we're in one of those positions.

"A lot of the indicators that we have indicate we're better than where we're placed but unfortunately, as we know ... we're based on outcomes, so we've got to get better."