'Removed by foot from his arse'

Jack Riewoldt will play for Richmond in Saturday's clash with Greater Western Sydney having managed to avoid the axe threatened by Damien Hardwick, but only after being chastised by senior club officials for speaking out of school about the effectiveness of the Tigers' game plan.

Riewoldt was spoken to after training on Thursday by Hardwick, CEO Brendon Gale and Dan Richardson, all of whom stressed the importance of maintaining a united front during what is a difficult period for the struggling club.

Earlier on Thursday, Hardwick had indicated that Riewoldt's spot in the side could be in jeopardy as a result of his assertion that the Tigers had spent too much time trying to play in the mould of reigning premiers Hawthorn.

"Obviously we were pretty disappointed with his comments, we caught up with him this morning, and we've moved his foot from his mouth and my foot from his arse," Hardwick said.

"We sit here and talk about being a united footy club, and Jack went outside those boundaries. We've got a match committee this afternoon, his form's been OK, whether we take any of this into account we'll see this afternoon," Hardwick said.

Light-heartedly agreeing with a suggestion that Riewoldt should have continued his early-season media ban, Hardwick emphasised that the dual Coleman medallist was aware he had erred.

"Jack understands what he's said, and probably by his own admission would say he buggered that one up," Hardwick said. "I don't think he actually knew what he was saying. It was one of those interviews where he constantly got himself deeper and deeper in trouble. He's remorseful, he doesn't actually know why he's said it."

Hardwick contended that he had not implemented any major tactical overhaul in the pre-season.

"Our game plan's our game plan, it's been the same for about three to four years and we have subtle changes with that, so from our point of view some things have worked, some things haven't," he said.

Riewoldt admitted the folly of his ways late on Thursday afternoon via Twitter.

"Poor choice of words by me yesterday and poor timing. I've copped my right whack and moved on, can't wait to play this weekend #gotiges," he tweeted.

The tweet came not long after Riewoldt used novel means to avoid the media scrum awaiting him outside Punt Road, jumping the fence at Richmond club headquarters and taking the train home, leaving his car to be retrieved later.

Richmond made three changes to the team beaten by Melbourne last Saturday, with Matt Thomas, Dylan Grimes and Matt Dea replacing injured David Astbury and Nick Vlastuin, along with Sam Lloyd who has been omitted.

The Giants regain ruckman Shane Mumford and key forward Jeremy Cameron as part of seven alterations made to the side thumped by West Coast a fortnight ago. Dual Geelong premiership player Josh Hunt has been dropped, while Toby Greene will serve the first week of his five-game club imposed suspension.

Having slumped to 2-6 and above only the Giants and Brisbane Lions on the ladder, the Tigers have faced immense scrutiny this week. Hardwick believed it was the toughest point of his four-and-a-half year tenure at the club, but suggested that setbacks were inevitable.

"It was never going to be a linear progression, we've improved every year, there was always going to be a bump in the road at some stage, and funnily enough you find out a little bit about yourself and your footy club at that stage. We've just got to make sure we work through it, we find out a lot about what drives us, what gets us better," he said.

Mumford returns from a five-match injury layoff, and Hardwick is all too aware of the former Cat and Swans' impact around stoppages, highlighted by the fact that GWS has failed to register a victory in his absence.

"He's a very good player, it's amazing how a certain player can give a quality of play to a team," Hardwick said of Mumford after joking that he hoped someone kicked the robust Giant in the calf and prevented him from playing on the weekend.

Brett Deledio hinted on Monday that the Tigers may have subconsciously fallen victim to complacency this year following their breakthrough finals appearance of 2013. Hardwick said he would be disappointed if that was the case, detailing how the side had spoken in the aftermath of the elimination final loss to Carlton about the need to avoid falling into that trap.

The backlash towards Richmond was severe after the defeat against the Demons, but it will reach another stratosphere should the Tigers suffer their first loss to GWS. But Hardwick was not thinking of the consequences should that occur, contending that the club's strong leadership - in particular president Peggy O'Neal and Gale - ensured that stability would be maintained regardless of the outcome at Spotless Stadium.

The story 'Removed by foot from his arse' first appeared on WA Today.

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