Damien Hardwick says despite winning just two matches this season, Richmond are a better side than last year.
The Tigers coach was upbeat ahead of their Sunday MCG clash with Hawthorn, who suffered their first loss of the season against Geelong on Monday.
Richmond have won their past two clashes with the reigning premiers and Hardwick felt they had the game to make it three in a row.
“The big thing for us is if we can win contested ball and get the ball going our way we think defensively we can hold some sway,” he said.
He said Geelong did well to put pressure up forward on the Hawks’ ball carriers, which cut down their kicking efficiency.
The Tigers could do the same.
“Our pressure rating in that end of the ground is up there with the best in the AFL as are our forward 50 turnovers, it’s an area we pride ourselves on and we’ve got to make sure we bring it against the Hawks.”
Richmond forward Ty Vickery hasn’t done enough to earn a recall from the VFL, while injured stars Alex Rance and Brett Deledio are due back next round and Ivan Maric after the round eight bye.
Jake King will miss a month with a chronic toe problem.
“He (Vickery) was okay on the weekend; he’s still got to work on those areas that we spoke about last week,” Hardwick said.
The coach still feels the team, without those players, is stronger than last year’s line-up.
He was impressed by the contributions of former fringe players Ben Griffith, David Astbury, Matt Arnot, Nathan Gordon and youngster Sam Lloyd.
“Although the win-loss record doesn’t indicate this, we’re a better side than last year,” Hardwick said.
“The quality of our side’s a lot better so we’ve just got to hang tough where we are at the moment and try to nail these next two games before the bye and get those guys back and we’ll be onwards and upwards from there.”
Hardwick said his team was ready to match a powerhouse team like Hawthorn with consistency missing from their game.
“At various stages we’ve played some really good footy, we’ve just got to make sure we find that consistency and not allow a four-goal swing like what happened against Brisbane,” he said.
“We’re not far off.”