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AFL 2022: Damien Hardwick backtracks comments after calling out Daniel Andrews over close contact Covid rules, Richmond Tigers

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AFL coach Damien Hardwick has backflipped a day after heaping pressure on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has clarified comments he made over the weekend that heaped pressure on Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to remove close-contact restrictions.

On Sunday, the three-time premiership-winning mentor took aim at the recommendation from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee not to ease isolation rules for close contacts.

There are new calls for the Victorian government to change its isolation rules for household contacts over fears supermarket shelves and restaurants could be left empty over the Easter holidays.

Currently, anyone who is deemed a close contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus is required to undergo seven days of isolation.

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Hardwick became a powerful voice in the argument when he called on Andrews to follow through with the national cabinet’s agreement last month for the isolation period to be scrapped for most Covid-19 close contacts.

The restrictions resulted in Tigers talent Sydney Stack being removed from the Tigers’ VFL game this weekend against Sandringham.

Stack was living with a person who had recently tested positive for Covid.

Hardwick said in his post match press conference: “If we could just get rid of the close contact rule Dan, that would be terrific.

“It would make everyone’s life a hell of a lot easier”.

After both the AFL and the Victorian government hit back at Hardwick’s comments on Monday, the Tigers coach took to social media to clarify his comments here “tongue in cheek”.

“To clarify, my comments post-match regarding rules around close contacts were a tongue in cheek reference to the fact we missed Sydney Stack on the wknd,” Hardwick wrote on Twitter.

“Nothing more. People far better placed than myself put these rules in place to support the efforts of our health care workers.”

Hardwick’s press conference quip wasn’t well received by the league or the state government.

The AFL said in a statement: “We maintain the same position as we have for the last two years that the health and safety of everyone in the community is paramount and we are led by the relevant state governments regarding the protocols that are required to continue to keep the community safe and well.

“The work of everyone on the front line of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – nurses, doctors, healthcare workers – has been nothing short of incredible and we thank them for their continued dedication and sacrifice and we will continue to play our role in doing what we can to support their efforts in keeping the community safe.”

Victorian Minister for Innovation and Medical Research, Jaala Pulford, said: “Mr Hardwick is entitled to his view.

“Everyone’s entitled to their view, it’s been a challenging and frustrating couple of years but we’ll keep listening to the health experts.”

Hardwick looked a desperate coach after the 33-point loss to the Saints.

Forward Max King had another huge performance where he finished with four goals.

Hardwick put some pressure on his players not to play dumb footy after a series of clumsy free kicks ultimately proved fatal.

The Tigers lost the free kick count 19-28.

“It’s disappointing and (especially) the cheapness of some of the free kicks,” Hardwick said.

“Just discipline and just too high and the stoppage free kicks hurt us once again.

“We’ve got to get better. We’ve spoken about that all year, about trying to eradicate that from our game, but it creeps in at critical stages and it’s really, really costly.

“Like you can’t defend from a free kick, you can’t put pressure on, they get a free disposal. So we’ve got to get better on that front.”



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