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'Bunch of spuds': Cotchin reveals Hardwick's brutal Bombers dig, fierce spray after last game as Tigers coach

22nd October, 2023
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22nd October, 2023
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Richmond triple-premiership captain Trent Cotchin has revealed Damien Hardwick’s extraordinary reaction to the Tigers’ loss to Essendon this season, that marked the great coach’s final game at the helm.

Just days after a thrilling one-point loss to the Bombers in May’s ‘Dreamtime at the ‘G’ match, Hardwick, who alongside Cotchin led the Tigers to three flags in four years between 2017 and 2020, shocked the football world by resigning from his post after more than 13 years effective immediately, before taking up the vacant Gold Coast senior coaching position later in the year.

Before departing the Tigers, however, Hardwick dished out an extraordinary last bake; according to Cotchin, he referred to the team as ‘putrid’ and dismissed their Bombers opponents as a ‘bunch of spuds’.

“He [Hardwick] was filthy and cutting with his comments to the group and about the opposition,” Cotchin wrote in new book From the Heart, as part of an excerpt released to the Herald Sun.

In an angry meeting in the rooms after the game, he referred to us as ‘putrid’ and said the way some of us had played meant he would just get ‘another c–t to replace us’.

“He pointed to the Essendon team that was displayed on the whiteboard and said, ‘To be honest with you, I reckon this team is a bunch of spuds, and you aren’t even as good as they are’.

“His spray had much more to do with us than his assessment of the Bombers. Upon reflection I’m not even sure he knew what he had said.

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“He was quite rattled. I was thinking, ‘Well, this is different’.”

The Tigers had led by 18 points early in the final term, before the Bombers stormed home with four of the last five goals, taking the lead via a Sam Durham major in the final seconds.

For Cotchin, the post-match tirade was the moment he began to believe Hardwick was not long for his job – a feeling that proved prescient when Hardwick called him and Jack Riewoldt two days later to invite them to his house for a chat.

“Dimma asked me to grab Dusty [Dustin Martin] on my way to his house but I couldn’t get hold of him. In the car, I sensed what was coming,” Cotchin wrote.

“It was only a brief chat as Dimma had a lot of people to get to before the news would break that he was quitting the club immediately.

“I got to his place at 12.54pm; I left at 1.08pm. In between, we sat on the couch and talked about why he felt it was the right time for him to go.

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“The one thing I will always remember was how much pressure seemed to have been released by him making that decision to leave. I can vividly remember how blue his eyes looked. He looked like he had more life back in his face.

“He had only told the club the night before that he was leaving, yet you could already see a huge burden had been lifted.”

Damien Hardwick.

Damien Hardwick. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Throughout the ordeal, Cotchin’s number one priority was, and remains, Hardwick’s wellbeing.

“For me, the main thing was that I hoped he would find his true happiness,” he wrote.

“Our relationship had been challenged but Dimma will be a friend for life. I hope he knows that if he ever needs a coffee or a chat, I will be there for him at the drop of a hat.”

Cotchin retired after 306 games, including three premierships as captain, in the second-last round of the 2023 home-and-away season.

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His book will be released on November 1 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

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