An uncompromising and hard-nosed defender, Hardwick played 153 games with Essendon, including the 2000 premiership, before crossing to Port Adelaide at the end of 2001. He played a further 54 games with the Power, the last of which was the 2004 premiership.
He won the Bombers’ Best and Fairest in 1998 and was named All-Australian in 2000. He represented Australia in the International Rules series in 2000 and 2001.
Hardwick started his assistant coaching career with Hawthorn in 2005 and played a significant role in the club’s 2008 premiership success. He was the Hawks’ forward coach from 2005-07, and was in charge of their midfield for two seasons.
Hardwick steered Richmond to the finals for three consecutive seasons, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and was then the inspiration behind Richmond’s drought-breaking 2017 premiership.
Hardwick was named the 2017 AFL Coaches Association coach of the year and got consistent performances out of his role players on the way to a stunning triumph in 2017, and preliminary final appearance in 2018.
Hardwick was again at the forefront last season as the Tigers capitalised on the inroads they made as a collective in 2017.
Richmond didn’t get the ultimate reward, but the experienced coach’s ability to prioritise relationships and win the commitment of his players still meant the Tigers led the AFL for much of the season.