The Tigers coach talks about Martin’s AFL future

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has given his blessing to Dustin Martin if Tiger superstar Melbourne wants to leave AFL Fishball.

Three-time medalist Norm Smith is two games behind from a six-week break from the AFL for personal reasons.

Martin took a leave of absence from Richmond after the Tigers’ Round One defeat against Carlton as he mourned the death of his father last December.

Rumors are rife that the 30-year-old wants to live a more private life outside the AFL-dominated state and move to Sydney.

On Tuesday, Hardwick spoke of the possibility of ending a 263-game career away from Martin’s Punt RD.

“He’s a very important player for our football club, on and off the field,” Hardwick told Richmond’s Dreamtime on ‘G Blockbuster’.

“Whatever He gives us, He gives us with a spade.

“Whatever Dustin’s decision is, it’s up to Dustin, and to be honest, he’s my blessing.

“What he has given me, us, our fans, he is incredible and what we get from here is a bonus.

“I am just happy to be able to see him perform on a weekly basis and the way he trains.

“He was in a bit of pain last week, he never raised his hand and wouldn’t say he was a little less.

“He is a necessary Richmond player and a very important Richmond player.”

Hardwick welcomed Martin’s influence in the win over Collingwood and Hawthorne as the Brownlow medalist played primarily as a forward.

Hardwick said, “The way this guy prepares physically and mentally is first-class, great people do it.”

“There is no coincidence that what he does is rewarded with his field performance.

“Even after the (Tuesday training) session, he is running extra because he is such a performer.

“We use him as an example for our young blocks, ‘Listen, you want to get to that level, good luck at first, but that’s how you go about it.'”

Martin was drafted by Richmond in 2009 and has become one of the club’s all-time greats for leading the Tigers to the Premiership in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

AFL legend Leigh Mathews believes he can recall for the first time a coach that he would allow a superstar player to leave.

“I thought, to be honest, this is a weird thing – I don’t know if I (Richmond) will support him or not and (Martin) will take their blessings, this is a very unusual remark.” “The four-time premiership coach has told 3AW.

“If anything, I thought it might open the door to the thought that Dustin Martin could go elsewhere during his career.”


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