Caretaker McQualter ready to take reins at Tigers

·2-min read
Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Caretaker Andrew McQualter hasn't even thought about whether he'll throw his hat in the ring to coach Richmond full-time as he attempts to refocus the Tigers for their clash with Port Adelaide.

Former St Kilda and Gold Coast player McQualter will lead Richmond until the end of the season following three-time premiership winner Damien Hardwick's shock departure.

McQualter has worked at Punt Road for close to a decade but wouldn't be drawn on whether he'll push to be Hardwick's successor.

"I haven't even had time to think about it," McQualter told reporters on Friday.

"At the moment we're just dealing with this week and trying to prepare the players for the game."

McQualter was adamant Richmond had quickly moved on to Sunday's match at the MCG.

"It was a crazy 48 hours," he said.

"We made that whole day about (Hardwick) and as footy clubs do, they move on pretty quickly, so we got back to work on Tuesday and started planning for Port Adelaide.

"It actually wasn't much of a challenge at all (to refocus the players). The players have been unbelievable with their energy this week.

"It's pretty clear that we've still got belief in the way we play.

"The group has been outstanding. The leaders have been outstanding and it hasn't been up to us to drive much of that energy to be honest."

Hardwick called McQualter to tell him he was stepping down and told the new interim boss to "be yourself".

"It's a little bit bittersweet - the whole week's been," he said.

"We never like to see Dimma leave in these circumstances but I've just been really grateful for the opportunity.

"We've got an incredible coaching group so it's not just about me. We've got a group that's really experienced and we're just going to batten down the hatches and do it together."

The 36-year-old said he'd knocked back Ross Lyon's approach to join his St Kilda coaching staff as he believed Richmond could still be competitive.

McQualter played with Tom Lynch and Dion Prestia at Gold Coast while he previously played VFL with Richmond, which along with his lengthy tenure as an assistant made the transition more seamless.

"In a way I've had relationships with these guys, particularly the older ones, you're talking about 10 years," he said.

"So they've been incredibly supportive of me in the program and we're just looking forward to getting to work."

Defender Nick Vlastuin (corked leg) wasn't at main training on Friday and was later ruled out.

Tylar Young and Ben Miller return, while substitute Judson Clarke and Thomson Dow were omitted.

Daniel Rioli left the track early and was later limited to walking laps and run-throughs but has been cleared to play.