Hardwick said his players had pulled up well from a bruising wet-weather victory over Essendon in last week’s Dreamtime at the ’G game, including key forward Tom Lynch, who sat out the last quarter after copping a calf knock.
Cotchin’s injury lay-off was his longest during a season since 2009, and Hardwick conceded the 29-year-old would need to shake off some rust.
‘‘We were touch and go last week but we always had the North Melbourne game as our aim,’’ Hardwick said on Thursday.
‘‘He’ll probably be a little bit rusty, I reckon, with regard to his touch in and around the contest … but we just love his physicality and his ability to run and cover ground.
‘‘He’ll get better as the game goes along.’’
Friday night’s game at Marvel Stadium will be the Kangaroos’ first since the sudden departure of long-serving coach Brad Scott.
The battling Roos pulled off an emotional win over the Western Bulldogs less than 24 hours after learning of Scott’s exit.
Hardwick said the Tigers would focus on their own backyard rather than contemplating how the Kangaroos would handle their first game under caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw.
‘‘The one thing we spoke to our boys about is their record is 3-7 but they’re a better side than 3-7 … they ran Geelong to the last quarter a couple of weeks ago,’’ he said.
‘‘They’ve been training their style of play over years really, and to be fair it’s a pretty good style of play.
‘‘They move the ball pretty well. They’ve had a couple of issues, like most sides and like us as well, with their connection inside-50 but they’re a very dangerous side.’’