Following a disappointing year for the reigning premiers, the 2022 season is set to offer a number of new changes at Tigerland.
“With Dave retiring, we felt we had a need for a bigger body-type defender,” Hardwick told AFL 360 on Monday night.
“I think that will allow Dylan Grimes and Noah Balta to be a little bit freer down there. Dylan’s done an incredible job ever since the retirement of Alex [Rance] maintaining that back six, but he’s really capable of playing some really damaging footy for us as well getting a little bit higher up the ground.
“I’m really excited by bringing in Robbie that will allow us to explore the avenue of others as well. I think our forwards are pretty keen to get Robbie out of North Melbourne too because he does a hell of a job."
The 2022 season will also see a change in the coaching department for the Tigers, after recruiting ex-Carlton coach David Teague for assistant coach.
After a controversial end to his career at the Blues, Teague has expressed his excitement to work along side Hardwick to get the Tigers back into the eight.
“I am looking forward to getting to work this pre-season and embracing the challenge that we all have, to climb the Tigers back up the ladder in 2022."
“Coaching is my passion, and I am excited by the opportunity to get to work with a new group of players and at a new club."
Hardwick expressed the difficulty behind the decision to lose the star ruckman, but believes the move will be the most beneficial for his future.
“Mabs has been a friend of ours, my family, and started his journey six years ago. But he’s got a fantastic opportunity, four years up at Gold Coast – and I think he’s only scratching the surface of what he could become," he said.
“He’s looking forward to the change and I think, in fairness, he probably needs a change as well. But he can be a talent, that lad.”
However, Hardwick believes the biggest loss for the club lies in the departure of Callum Coleman-Jones.
After labelling him a "required player" for the future of the squad, the Richmond Coach did not hold back in his disappointment in the fledgling prospect's decision to request a move to Arden Street.
“We haven’t actually worked our way through this, but for us he’s a required player. He’s requested a trade to the Kangas, which is disappointing," Hardwick stated.
“It is hard because we’ve been together on a journey.
“They just want to play. I can sit there and say ‘listen I can try and try and try’, but the reality is they want to play, every kid – and that’s the challenge (for us) being at the top for a little period of time. We’ve got some players that are capable of playing some regular AFL footy and they just don’t quite get the chance.”
Due to these departures, the team are set to be one of the most active during the upcoming trade period.
With the new recruits, four picks inside the first 30 selections of the 2021 NAB AFL Draft as well as a new captain still to be elected, Richmond are looking to shape an impressive new side for for the future.