Ross Lyon has passionately defended Aaron Sandilands’ last-minute inclusion to the team in Saturday’s 22-point win over Richmond after Tigers coach Damien Hardwick questioned the integrity of the move.

The three-time All Australian was an emergency, but an injury to selected ruckman Jon Griffin in the warm-up saw Sandilands play his first game since round 11.

Hardwick said in his post-match media conference that, although the late change was within the rules, it wasn’t in the spirit of the game.

When asked if he thought Sandilands’ inclusion was legitimate, Hardwick said: “I think everyone knows the answer to that question.”

Lyon vehemently denied the accusation.

“There was no ruse here, so if anyone’s calling us liars, they want to be really strong and have strong evidence,” he said.

“I was in shock myself.

“The doctor grabbed me and I started laughing because I couldn’t believe it after last week (Nat Fyfe late withdrawal).”

Lyon said he then spoke to Griffin in the change rooms, who told the coach he’d tweaked his groin.

“He said he wasn’t confident to play and I said ‘well, you’re done’,” Lyon said.

“We went and got Aaron.”

The senior coach said he understood why people have questioned the legitimacy of the move, but stood by his statement.

“I’m on record here, this is bona fide legitimate and if anyone wants to make accusations outside of that, they’re well and truly out of line and would want to be really careful.”

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