Richmond figures believe Damien Hardwick went too far with a comment about his new playing group, according to football journalist Caroline Wilson.
The veteran reporter on Monday night said the Suns coach’s comments about his “new toys” on the Gold Coast has not sat well with the Tigers.
The 51-year-old has signed a mammoth six-year deal with the Suns after making a shock decision to quit the Tigers in the middle of the 2023 season.
Wilson said Hardwick “owed” the Tigers more than what he said in his first press conference with the Suns two weeks ago.
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“Damien Hardwick will always be a Richmond hero,” Wilson said on Channel 9’s Footy Classified.
“Now the dust has settled on that extraordinary time line between quitting Tigerland — burnt out at the end of May — to turning up as a rejuvenated and regenerated man in Gold Coast red at the end of August, some of Hardwick’s recent behaviour has not set well with Richmond people.”
She said the three-time premiership coach’s comment about his new players “was too much for some Tigers”.
A beaming Hardwick gushed about the Suns being a “wonderful club” and firmly stated his intention to lead the side to its first premiership.
”I’m very, very, very excited,” Hardwick said.
“I likened it to waking up on Christmas morning to the sight of brand new toys.
“I’m very much looking forward to coaching these young men and taking us where we need to go and that’s to raise our first premiership cup, which I’m sure will be in the not-too-distant future.
“Eighty per cent of our first premiership side is sitting in this room right now.”
Essendon legend and Footy Classified panellist Matthew Lloyd said he was fine with the “new toys” comment because it was a way of Hardwick selling himself to his new players.
However, Wilson responded: “New toys? Nup. It’s a way of talking about your old toys like a bit of cattle”.
She went on to say: “Disrespectful Damien and you didn’t rule out having a crack at Dusty (Martin) either. Surely you owe the Tigers more than that after they released you pretty generously one and a half years early from a lucrative contract.
“I think Richmond should remain a no-go zone to you Damien and with all that Gold Coast gift-wrapped talent to open you wouldn’t want to to be waking up on Boxing Day with a hangover.”
Meanwhile, rumours about Martin and Hardwick linking up again on the Gold Coast continue to swirl. Wilson said Martin is yet to make a final decision on where his future lies.
Brownlow medallist Dane Swan earlier poured fuel on the fire suggesting Martin could be coached by Hardwick next year.
He said Martin has been invited to his 40th birthday celebrations in Las Vegas next February and expects Hardwick could have the final say.
“He’s invited, depends if the new coach will give him two weeks off,’’ Swan said, per the Herald Sun.
“He’s more of a chance if he’s coached by Dimma (Damien Hardwick) and he may well be.”