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Hardwick admits VFL spray was over the top

3 minute read

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says he regrets his verbal altercation with opposition VFL players at Punt Road Oval last Saturday.

DAMIEN HARDWICK, coach of the Tigers.
DAMIEN HARDWICK, coach of the Tigers. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

AFL triple-premiership coach Damien Hardwick admits he overstepped the mark in an expletive-laden verbal spray of opposition players at Richmond's most recent VFL match.

Hardwick allegedly called Williamstown players "weak f***ing pricks" at quarter time in the contest at Punt Road Oval last Saturday.

The blow-up followed an on-field incident between Tigers AFL-listed player Rhyan Mansell and the Seagulls' Darby Henderson, which led to a melee.

The AFL investigated the matter but decided against sanctioning Hardwick.

"I understand in my position I've got to be better than that," Hardwick told reporters on Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time since the incident.

"I've got to be probably judged to a higher standard, and I understand that.

"What I will ask is that (people remember) I am human.

"I'm going to make mistakes and there's no doubt that I overstepped the mark."

VFL match footage showed Mansell pushing Henderson over the boundary line into the fence during the opening quarter.

Henderson retaliated, appearing to strike Mansell with an elbow to the back from behind, knocking his opponent to the ground.

The contact left Mansell clutching at his back and a melee ensued before he took his free kick.

Hardwick, who was watching from the sidelines, got involved at the break in play but refused on Thursday to confirm what he said to the Williamstown players.

"The reality is I'm very passionate about my players and always have been and always will be," Hardwick said.

"But as I said, I made a mistake, and the reality is I'm going to make mistakes going forward.

"Hopefully not too many, but I'll always defend my players, you guys know that.

"I probably didn't need to lean over the fence and yell but that's me.

"What makes me good makes me bad."

Hardwick has not yet apologised to the Williamstown players.

"If they require that, I'll certainly do that," he said, adding his mother had given him a dressing down over the incident.

Hardwick, who will take part in his 500th competitive AFL match as player or coach in Richmond's clash with Brisbane on Sunday, assisted the league in its investigation into the VFL incident.

"Damien assisted us with our enquiries, and in response he understands his standing in the community as a senior AFL coach and acknowledged if he had his time again he wouldn't have acted in that manner," the league said in a statement.

"No further action will be taken by the AFL."

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