Damien Hardwick’s marriage breakdown tore Richmond’s dressing room apart claims AFL legend as he reveals how players reacted when Tigers coach left his wife for a club staffer
- Trent Cotchin has opened up about the breakdown of Damien Hardwick’s marriage
- Hardwick split from his wife Danielle in 2020 and began a new romance
- Cotchin said the saga caused a rift in the Richmond dressing room
Trent Cotchin has opened up about the rift caused by the breakdown of Damien Hardwick’s marriage and the negative effect it had on their relationship.
Richmond was reportedly shocked when Hardwick split from his wife of 30 years, Danielle, and began a new relationship with former Tigers employee Alexandra Crow.
Hardwick, who now coaches the Gold Coast Suns, broke up with Danielle during the 2020 season, which saw each club move to a Covid-19 quarantine hub in Queensland.
News of his new relationship emerged just days after his marital breakdown became public knowledge.
Tigers great Cotchin, who led the club to three consecutive premierships with Hardwick, has told how the new romance drove a wedge between the coach and parts of the club.
Trent Cotchin (centre) tells how the breakdown in Damien Hardwick’s marriage caused division in the Richmond dressing room
Hardwick split from his wife Danielle (L) and started a new romance with Alexandra Crow (R)
In his new book From The Heart, Cotchin says: ‘Was it a distraction for the group? In my opinion it was sometimes that way.
‘Has it affected my relationship with Dimma? I would say yes 100 percent at that point.
“We had built this culture on a platform of family, connection and love – and Dimma and Danielle’s relationship had played a huge role in it all – so it was only natural that we worried about the possible consequences.”
Danielle was loved by those at Richmond Football Club and she and Hardwick were branded ‘the second family’ to Cotchin and his wife in an Instagram post over Christmas 2020.
Her absence from Hardwick’s emotional press conference this year, in which he announced his departure from the Melbourne club, was also notable. Their three children were in attendance, in addition to Hardwick’s current partner, Crow, and his mother, Pam.
Cotchin says the saga had an impact on the club’s dismal 2021 season, where they failed to reach the final despite winning the premiership last season. .
Cotchin won three premierships as Hardwick captain but admits their relationship changed after the coach’s marriage fell apart
“I still loved Dimma and still respected him as a coach… but I’m not sure my relationship with him ever got back to the same level,” he said.
“For whatever reason, there always seemed to be some kind of barrier between us. Maybe it wasn’t just the captain and the coach; perhaps it was emblematic of the group’s bond that season.
“We didn’t lose the plot in 2021, but when I think about it, there just wasn’t the same crazy connection between the playgroup that was our armor from 2017 to 2020.”