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Hardwick hails his grand final-bound Tigers as the best yet

“We’ve got some guys who have stepped up and become important players for us.

“We’re more consistent across the board and don’t rely on any one player to step up and dominate like other sides to go.

Jubilation: The Tigers savour the moment after earning a grand final berth.

Jubilation: The Tigers savour the moment after earning a grand final berth.Credit:Getty Images

“I think we get a real soldier-like performance from all our players.”

Hardwick described his tight-knit, high-achieving group as special and having benefited from the large volume of time spent together, predominantly in the Queensland hub.

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“I’ve been around footy a long time but I’ve never seen a group that gels like our boys,” he said.

“They’re a special group.

“We really struggled when we were under the protocols in Melbourne because we were disconnected, but then we came up here [to Queensland], got our players back together and started to understand who we are again and what we do.

“It’s worked really well for us.”

Hardwick also issued a warning to critics of two-time premiership-winning forward Jack Riewoldt.

After being held goalless and restricted to two kicks in the semi-final win over St Kilda, Riewoldt was marginally better against the Power, notching an early major among his six kicks.

Don't write off Jack Riewoldt, says Tigers coach Damien Hardwick.

Don’t write off Jack Riewoldt, says Tigers coach Damien Hardwick.Credit:Getty Images

In 2017 Riewoldt was relatively quiet in the preliminary final against GWS before having a day out in the decider against Adelaide.

Last year he was held goalless against Geelong, a week before slaughtering the Giants with five majors on grand final day.

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If history and Hardwick are good judges, “Jumping Jack” could be on next Saturday.

“Jack was one-versus-two, one-versus-three a lot of times, as was Tom [Lynch],” Hardwick said of his two spearheads’ travails against Port.

“We’ve seen this last year where Jack was playing a reasonable brand of footy, then dominated in the biggest game on the biggest stage.

“Write him off at your own peril.”

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