ESPN’s Matt Walsh laces up the boots to try his hand at the endangered Aussie rules art of the centre bounce. (2:21) Damien Hardwick isn’t putting a timeline on his AFL coaching career after reaching the 300-game milestone in Richmond’s clash with Collingwood. Taking over the then battling Tigers ahead of the 2010 season, Hardwick becomes the 16th man in AFL/VFL history on Friday night to coach 300 games. But he becomes just the fourth coach in the AFL era to have notched the double – 300 games and three premierships – joining luminaries Mick Malthouse, Leigh Matthews and Alastair Clarkson. Ahead of the blockbuster MCG clash, Hardwick reflected on his career in the coaching hot seat, steering his team to premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020. He also spoke of the lean times like in 2016 when the club missed the finals finishing 13th, piling pressure on his position with club president Peggy O’Neal and chief executive Brendon Gale unwavering in their support. “It’s a great honour (to reach 300) especially to be a part of this great club,” Hardwick told reporters. “It’s just a reward for you know, everyone in our organisation really. I’ve been very, very fortunate to work with some great people, work with some great players. “To think about probably the bravery that Peggy and Brendon showed when things weren’t going so well in 2016. “I’m forever indebted to those people in particular, but I think it’s a measure of a successful organisation they back their people in and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it.” Asked whether a coach could stay too long in the role, Hardwick felt there was no end date as long as he continued to evolve. The 50-year-old says he always looks to improve through reading or mentors from inside and outside football. He said Melbourne NRL coach Craig Bellamy in his 21st season with the Storm was an “incredible example,” while he also mentioned ex-AFL coaches Kevin Sheedy and Mark Williams. “Part of my challenge and the challenge of coaching full stop is you’re cooking your sausages in different ways to use, I think, an Allan Jeans (coach) analogy,” Hardwick said. “One of the things I pride myself and our club on is consistently improving in certain facets of our development. “The reality is as soon as I stop improving, that’s probably the time that I leave so that’s a challenge that everyone in our footy club is charged with. Hardwick faces a fresh challenge against the rampant Magpies with four key players, including Dustin Martin, missing through injury or suspension. “But what we’re really happy with is the depth of talent that we have at the development level. “We’re really excited that those guys who we are bringing in, they’re playing above the level of VFL, so that’s a positive for us. We’re really excited to give those guys a chance.”