AFL grand final 2020: How Chris Scott and Damien Hardwick handled the hub to earn grand final chance

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Craig O'DonoghueThe West Australian
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VideoAFL: Ten years ago Brendon Gale predicted that the Richmond Tigers would have three flags, a 75,000 strong membership base and be completely out of debt by 2020. Could it all come true this weekend?

Grand final coaches Chris Scott and Damien Hardwick have declared their ability to handle the challenges that have come in a COVID year are the key reasons why they have won their way through to the grand final.

The Cats and Tigers will play at the Gabba tomorrow and only an injury at Richmond training this afternoon will result in either team making a change to their preliminary final team.

Scott is coaching his second grand final, and first since winning the premiership in 2011. He said both the Cats and Richmond had met every challenge thrown at them in the hub this year.

“Back in March, the challenge was there for everyone to see,” Scott said.

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“Even Gil said the teams that were the most agile and the ones that embraced the situation were probably going to be the ones that played the longest. I’ve certainly seen that in Richmond and I’d like to think we’ve been able to approach it in that manner as well.”

The grand final will see Geelong superstar Gary Ablett playing his last AFL game. Captain Joel Selwood said the dual Brownlow medallist’s decision to announce it would be his final season at the start of the year meant everyone had been given the opportunity to constantly celebrate Ablett’s career, but felt it wouldn’t be a factor tomorrow.

Hardwick described the grand final as “a celebration of both clubs” after spending more than 100 days living interstate.

Richmond are chasing back to back premierships for just the third time in their history, and victory will also see them winning three of the last four flags. Hardwick said his players had to remain focused on beating Geelong instead of worrying about trying to create history.

“You can sit there and dream as much as you like but the fact of the matter is you’ve got to do a hell of a lot of work to get there. We’ve given ourselves an opportunity,” Hardwick said.

Trent Cotchin and Joel Selwood with the premiership cup.
Camera IconTrent Cotchin and Joel Selwood with the premiership cup. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Richmond beat Geelong earlier in the season and Scott said his team clearly had to play differently to win the premiership.

He said the Tigers had been the AFL’s best team for several years and everyone knew they had to search for the secrets to beating them.

“In the back of our mind it has been really clear that Richmond have been the best team and if you’re going to win the premiership, you’re more than likely going to have to beat them,” Scott said.

“We were aware that our system was going to have to stand up against them. They’ve been the benchmark.”

Damien Hardwick and Chris Scott at today’s press conference.
Camera IconDamien Hardwick and Chris Scott at today’s press conference. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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