Damien Hardwick has spoken about Alex Rance’s retirement for the first time since the stunning decision was made in December.
Speaking at a press conference today about the upcoming Bushfire Relief Match, the two-time premiership coach said the door will always be open if the 30-year-old ever changes his mind.
"At this stage he's retired in our plans, but plans can change,” the State of Origin coach of Victoria said.
"My more important thing is to make sure Alex is happy in his journey in life.
"Alex's always been an incredible player for us, but his family and his faith have always been at the forefront of his mind. Whatever makes Alex happy makes us happy.
"Is the door ajar? Probably it is but the ball is in Alex's court from that point of view."
People in the aftermath queried why Richmond players were so quiet in regards to Rance’s retirement on social media, believing it implied there was some bad blood.
However, Hardwick has strongly put that talk to bed.
"Our players have got a different mindset to that, we don't necessarily need to forefront in the social media game,” he said.
"Our guys are really connected via actual human connection … phone calls, conversations.
"I know we probably copped a little bit of flak for that but it's not how our club operates we tend to leave the phones at home.
"The more and more we hug, we love. He knows exactly how we feel about him, how important he is to the fabric of our organisation. He'll be heavily missed, not only as a football player but a person."
Ugly rumours have circled on social media regarding Rance’s retirement and the situation regarding his divorce and Hardwick has slammed them as “weak” and “disappointing”.
"That's what people do, they sit there and hide behind keyboards and it's weak and it's incredibly disappointing from my point of view," he said.
"There's no truth to it, there's nothing to it. This man is a man who's been devoted to his family and his faith for a long period of time and there's nothing more sinister than that."