Richmond boss Damian Hardwick has jumped into Trent Cotchin’s defense amid questions about the veteran midfielder’s ability to contribute in a new role this season.
The addition of inside midfielders Tim Taranto and Jacob Hooper means Cotchin won’t feature much in the Tigers’ engine room in 2023.
The 32-year-old Premier League star will spend more time in the lead half than he has in most of his 287-match career.
Already harsh critics had called Cochin too slow and questioned whether he would score enough goals to justify his stance.
But Hardwicke, who believes outsiders are quick to write off heroic players because it’s “an easy story to write,” had none of it.
“He’s a great competitive ball player, but he has an incredible skill forward, funny enough,” Hardwick told Fox Footy.
“He’s played that role for the last six or seven weeks in the last year and he’s done it very well if you go back and look at the tape.
“He’s assisted a lot of goals, scored twice as well, so we’re really confident in what he can do.
“We also know that when it’s time to pay, we’ll need it on the coal face.
“He’s a good player and people always jump right in to the champions.”
Carlton boss Michael Voss, whose team takes on Richmond at the MCG on Thursday night, is wary of Cotchin’s potential impact in the season opener.
“He may be a slightly different version[of himself]but he will still be a very good version,” Foss told Fox Footy.
“He’s still going to keep us really good and aware of where we are on the field at any given time.”
Hardwicke hopes the former GWS defender Taranto and Hooper, who play alongside Deon Prestia and Shay Bolton, will give the Tigers new strength in the layoffs this year.
“There are three phases to the game and we were very good in two phases – the spinning match and also the offense,” Hardwick said.
“What we’ve probably run into is the clearance side and the ability to stop recording from those.
“Over the summer we’ve addressed that, bringing in line-ups, good stop-players and clearance players, which allows for a different way to play.
“If we can develop and continue to develop that part of our game, it will make my job a lot easier and the way we play a little bit different too.”
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