Richmond hasn’t seen the last of Dustin Martin, with head coach Damien Hardwick saying the three-time Norm Smith Medalist will be a Tiger in 2023 and beyond.
Martin had 15 tackles, eight contested possessions, one goal and three inside 50s after eight weeks on the sidelines for Brisbane.
The triple Norm Smith medalist entered the sudden-death final at 80 per cent fitness and his role was disrupted when Dion Prestia was forced off with an injury before half-time, forcing Martin into midfield for more minutes than planned.
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Hardwick said Martin’s performance was as expected and insisted the triple premiership star will remain at Punt Road.
“As far as I’m concerned, he has a two-year contract. All the speculation is from the people sitting on the (media) side of the table,” he said.
“It’s very simple to me – if people keep talking about it, it creates speculation,” he said.
“The fact is that he has two more years on his contract. It’s not going anywhere.”
There were claims Martin wanted to move to Sydney to continue his AFL career, with the Swans reportedly in the mix.
“We know he’s going to be paid $1.3 million for the next two seasons, I’m having fun, he’s telling people he doesn’t like football, maybe he needs a change of location, a change of geography,” reporter Sam McClure said. Allocated to Channel Nine’s Footy this week.
Hardwick said Martin had dealt with the swinging knife move in a controversial video released 24 hours before the final.
“We’re concerned about the safety of our players. But he’s got that under control and that’s where he’s going,” he said.
“It’s something I can’t really comment on because it’s under investigation, but we’ll work that way next week.”
Hardwick said it was a big call to take Martin into the final at only 80 per cent fitness, but he was glad they opted to play Jack Graham because he is in the same category.
“With Dion going down early, it was an obvious challenge to balance our midfield… if we had gone in with Jack Graham we would have had two players who were not as mature as we would have liked,” he said.
Hardwick said the result summed up Richmond’s 2022 campaign, which was ultimately “disappointing”. However, he is bullish about 2023.
“We think we have a really good group of players. “We are not looking to rebuild, but to renew,” he said.
“We have young children where we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s a frustrating season, I’m not going to lie, I feel like we’re better.
“It hurts to be hit by something you know. The players are getting hurt, our club is getting hurt and our fans are getting hurt.
“The brightest thing about Richmond is the future.”