Superstar AFL coach Damien Hardwick's relationship with younger staffer sends shockwaves through tight-knit Richmond club after the pair allegedly became close while locked up in Queensland hub
Daily Mail Australia has been told the Richmond coach began the taboo relationship with the club's own sales representative during the Tigers' time in the hub while still married to wife Danielle.
Hardwick - a three time premiership coach with the Tigers - allegedly split with his wife last month.
Although rumours of the split had by then already been swirling for weeks on BigFooty.com, which has become a huge breaker of footy scandals.
On Monday, the website was awash with comments about Hardwick's alleged affair with the younger staffer and supposed turmoil within the Tigers' camp, particularly with Tigers president Peggy O'Neil.
Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun rolled out the scandal on Monday afternoon, claiming 'the relationship has rocked staff within the club and could affect the playing group'.
Danielle Hardwick - the mother of Hardwick's three kids - has been a much-loved person in Tiger circles and has previously been credited with helping the side's premiership success.
Their announcement came just days after Collingwood Magpies coach Nathan Buckley confirmed he and wife Tania had split early last year.
Geelong Cats star Gary Rohan and wife Amie also split last year as did former North Melbourne star Majak Daw and partner Emily McKay, along with Cats champion Jimmy Bartel and his glamourous former wife Nadia.
In 2019, Hardwick revealed how he was convinced by his wife to select Marlion Pickett to make his AFL debut in the 2019 grand final.
Pickett has since become an integral part of the Tigers line-up with 19 games this season, including a second victorious grand final.
'I must admit, she was pushing Marlion harder than anyone,' Hardwick told Channel Nine's AFL Footy Show the day after Pickett's memorable debut in 2019.
'She goes, "You've just got to play him he's too good".
'She's been a terrific supporter of mine and behind every man is a great woman and I'm very fortunate.'
In 2018, Hardwick confessed in a pre-match interview with Triple M he had a few sleepless nights following his side loss in Perth.
'It comes from the Mrs Hardwick no win no love,' he quipped.
'I'm a bit flat, boys!'
Earlier this season Hardwick confessed in a press conference he was told off by his wife in the wake of his 'out of line' complaints about Sydney's defensive tactics.
'It was a shocker on my behalf,' Hardwick said.
'It was out of line. I was probably frustrated and let the situation get the better of me.
'I called up Horse (Swans coach John Longmire) and apologised. It was out of line on my behalf, so we had a good conversation and we moved on pretty quickly. I'll just worry about what I can control and continue to do that.
'(Mrs Hardwick) wasn't overly happy with the press conference. She gave me a dressing down after it. That was a good result.'
When the Herald Sun contacted the club, the Tigers stated it was aware Hardwick was currently in a relationship with a member of the club’s administration staff.
'The Club has no concerns with this under Club policy. Beyond this, it is a private matter and we ask that privacy be respected..' it stated.
Hardwick has been granted leave until February after his successful on field season.'
'I’m going to take a bit of a longer break this year over summer,' Hardwick told 3AW in October.
'It’s been a pretty full on 3-4 years and we’ve done a hell of a lot of work and had a lot of success along the way but sometimes you need to step back.'
'I’m very lucky that I’ve got some terrific assistants, and a couple of those guys will move on, but the coaching group and the people I have around me do a large amount of work and the reality is I sit at the top and manage those guys.'