Tiger great Rance reunites with Hardwick at Gold Coast

Steve Larkin |

Richmond greats Alex Rance and Damien Hardwick will reunite at Gold Coast next season.
Richmond greats Alex Rance and Damien Hardwick will reunite at Gold Coast next season.

Retired Richmond great Alex Rance will link with his former coach Damien Hardwick at Gold Coast.

The five-time All Australian defender has joined the Suns as a part-time leadership consultant.

Rance will reunite with Hardwick, who has taken over as Gold Coast coach after the late-season sacking of Stuart Dew.

“From a football perspective, I was really excited to come to the Gold Coast, I really love the trajectory of the football club,” Rance said in a statement on Monday.

“I’m looking forward to working with the players and staff to help grow our leadership capacity.

“We have some great people at the Suns and evolving with them is something I am really excited about.”

Rance, rated among the greatest defenders of the modern AFL era, won a premiership under Hardwick at Richmond in 2017.

But he missed the Tigers’ 2019 flag because of a knee injury and retired in December that year after a decorated 200-game career.

Gold Coast’s football manager Wayne Campbell – himself another former Richmond champion – said Rance’s experience would be invaluable to the Suns.

“Throughout his playing career, Alex proved himself to be the ultimate professional through his mental preparation and mindset which we believe is an area he can add value to our playing group off the field,” Campbell said.

“In his time with Richmond, Alex worked closely with Damien Hardwick and understands the program he is looking to implement at the Suns after spending many years as vice-captain and in the leadership group.”

The Suns, meanwhile, have extended their deal to play games in the Northern Territory for another three years.

Gold Coast will play consecutive games in Darwin in rounds nine and 10 next season, against North Melbourne and Geelong respectively.

The AFL on Monday also confirmed Melbourne would again play a nominal home game in Alice Springs, against Fremantle in round 12.

Next season’s full fixture will be released later this week.