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President endorses Richmond’s handling of Damien Hardwick situation

Richmond president Peggy O’Neal has endorsed the Tigers’ handling of Damien Hardwick’s marriage breakup and says she understands why people might be out to get the club now that they are no longer the league’s “Cinderella”.

Speaking publicly about the matter for the first time since news of Hardwick’s split with wife Danielle and new relationship with a club staffer made headlines, O’Neal said she was comfortable with the manner in which the issue had been dealt with by the club’s human relations department and at board level.

 Richmond coach Damien Hardwick with Tigers president Peggy O’Neal.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick with Tigers president Peggy O’Neal.Credit:Getty Images

“It’s been talked about quite a bit. We’re comfortable with all the decisions that have been made and ready to push on,” O’Neal said on Tuesday.

The Tigers have been adamant that the situation will not derail their quest for a third straight premiership, and fourth in five years. O’Neal was speaking at an early screening of Amazon’s Making Their Mark documentary, which sheds light on the manner in which Richmond handled several controversies last year, including their groping scandal and the Sydney Stack/Callum Coleman-Jones hub breaches.

Those incidents, as well as the Hardwick matter, have led to questions as to whether Richmond’s culture remains a beacon in the AFL, and whether there is significant discord at Punt Road.

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O’Neal said that ultimately some perceptions of the club were misguided, but understood that Richmond’s success may have cost them some good sentiment.

“I think when you’re inside something that’s happening, you would hope you’d have more information than people on the outside, and so when people write perceptions or opinions – and you just sort of think, ‘Well I think I know a bit more about what’s going on inside’. We don’t make decisions any differently than we did before,” O’Neal said.

“People are the same people. I’m the same person, but I understand that when Hawthorn had its purple patch I didn’t like Hawthorn very much either. So there’s a bit of envy that goes on whenever you’re successful I suppose. But in the end we think we’re doing things the same way we always have, and if people want to take a different slant now that we aren’t the Cinderella club, that maybe we’ve arrived, I understand that, that’s their prerogative.”

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