Hardwick could see return of AFL rep footy

Damien Hardwick will coach Victoria against the All Stars in the February game for bushfire relief.
Damien Hardwick will coach Victoria against the All Stars in the February game for bushfire relief.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says he could potentially see the return of State of Origin in the AFL in the future, given the positive reaction to next month's game for bushfire relief.

Hardwick will coach Victoria against the All Stars in the February 28 game at Marvel Stadium.

All proceeds from the game will go towards an AFL relief fund set up to help communities in fire-affected areas repair and rebuild their football clubs.

"If you had asked me probably this time last year, I'd probably say no," Hardwick said.

"Sometimes things can have a really deep impact, I think, and this might be the start of something.

"I think the amount of players we've seen put up their hand for a significant cause is really important.

"It mightn't be every year - it might be every four years or something, I'm not exactly sure and once again, it's in the players hands, they're the guys who have got to go out there and play.

"But once again, it's a great honour to wear the Big V or the All-Stars/Allied jumper, whatever it may be. But the reality is, it's in the players' court and the more guys that put their hand up to play, I think the more chance it has."

Hardwick said he was honoured to coach Victoria and applauded the players for their buy-in.

He expected players would go as hard as they could, given they were still in pre-season.

"Once that ball gets bounced, the players just go," Hardwick said.

"There's no holding back, I think, with regard to the talent that is on display and they'll play as hard as they can for as long as they can."

Hardwick said he looked forward to potentially coaching against the likes of Jack Riewoldt and Shane Edwards, while Victoria could have the services of Richmond star Dustin Martin.

A maximum of three players per AFL club will be made available across the two teams.

Australian Associated Press