Richmond Tigers star reveals what happened when Damien Hardwick told his team about his mistress and marriage break-up - and how the coach is coping with the furore
AFL premiership-winning coach Damien Hardwick has spoken to his team about the breakdown of his marriage.
As the Tigers hit the track under scorching heat in Melbourne on Monday, vice captain Jack Riewoldt revealed their coach had addressed his personal situation.
'I don’t think it’s going to have any impact, really. Damien is a good enough character to separate his personal life and his professional life,' Riewoldt told reporters.
'He’s shown over the last four years he’s been arguably the best coach in the land and he’ll continue to support us and we’ll continue to support him over the next period of time.'
Riewoldt said Hardwick had appeared 'really strong' as the Tigers looked to challenge for their fourth premiership under his leadership.
'So we’re excited to get out and train,' he said.
Daily Mail Australia reported just hours earlier that Hardwick was reportedly seen 'arm-in-arm' with his mistress long before they spent time together in the Richmond Tigers' COVID-safe team hub.
The Tigers coach was previously understood to have started dating the club's sales representative Alexandra Crow while in the team's biosecure team bubble during the 2020 season.
Hardwick's relationship with the club staffer has widely been blamed for causing the break-up of his marriage to wife Danielle - with the couple believed to have separated last month.
Riewoldt said his coach’s marriage split had taken him by surprise.
'You never predict something like this, but these things happen in people’s lives and we just move on,' he said.
'It’s obviously sad ‘Dimma’ and Danielle’s marriage has come to an end, because Dimma’s obviously been a big part of our football club.
'But the whole Hardwick family’s been a massive support network for us and they’ll continue to be a support network, as we will for them as well.
'You never like to see something like a marriage breakdown and an end but it happens in life and we move on and we continue to support the individuals.'
Addressing the split on Sam Newman's 'You Cannot be Serious' podcast, analyst Rod Law said he had spotted Hardwick and his new flame together in May - before the Tigers COVID hub was set up.
'They [the media] were citing the fact the COVID lockdown was the origins of the relationship with this person who worked alongside Damien,' Newman said.
'We think that's not quite right.
'The man sitting here beside me, Rocket (Law), saw, did you not, saw Damien Hardwick and said woman?
'How old was she, Rod (Law), when you saw her in the street arm in arm with Damien in May?'
Law indirectly confirmed the story in response.
'I saw something that I thought was unusual and I sent a message to somebody asking "Has there been some news I've missed about a split"?' Law replied.
'That person dismissed it, it was probably the wrong person to go to because they were quite close to Richmond.
'I took that under face value and kept it under my hat.'
Hardwick and his lover Alexandra Crow were suspected by friends of having an affair as far back as the Tigers' historic 2019 premiership win.
Daily Mail Australia was previously told by friends that Ms Crow's ex-partner Daniel Giese long suspected a third party.
'They started when I first heard she was going out with Daniel a few years ago, her heart wasn't into it and kept Daniel hanging on a leash, so to speak,' a friend said.
Hardwick remains on club sanctioned annual leave and is yet to directly address the scandal.