Richmond coach Damien Hardwick backing star Dustin Martin to remain at Tigers in 2023
Dustin Martin is “all in” in Richmond as the AFL club makes big calls about the future of other Premiership stars, manager Damien Hardwick said.
Veteran duo Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt are unsure whether to continue next season due to reports that the latter has been “busted” by the Tigers’ contract offer.
It is possible that other flag heroes Shane Edwards and Kane Lambert will follow until retirement.
Richmond is also looking for new talent from rival clubs to strengthen their roster.
They met GWS midfielder Jacob Hopper on Monday and were also linked with Giants teammate Tim Taranto.
Martin, who made a modest comeback from injury in the Tigers’ final defeat to Brisbane last week, is under contract for another two years.
But speculations continue to revolve around his future as a player.
Hardwick attempted to silence that speech.
“He’s on our side one hundred percent,” Hardwick told Fox Footy.
“It probably frustrates us a bit with constant media speculation because it just adds one click.
“The reality is that he is with us for another two years. Get used to it.
“I don’t have to ask, I just know. This guy is so invested in our soccer team.
“We had meetings today and we talk about where our roster is going and he is there. He is completely, absolutely.
Martin’s father Shane passed away in December and the superstar spent six weeks on personal leave away from Richmond earlier this season.
The 31-year-old missed seven more games because he was sidelined with hamstring injuries at the end of the return campaign.
“The great players have a very good understanding of what drives them and he’s had a tough year, no doubt, but he’s in the right frame of mind now,” said Hardwick.
“We saw him press the switch to know where he needs to go.
“He’s really excited about the offseason and the preseason and how it’s coming back.”
Tuesday looms as decision making day for Cotchin and Riewoldt as Richmond continues post-season player exit interviews.
The two were integral to the Tigers premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020, but while sentiment was taken into account, Hardwick said the next flag was the priority.
“We are probably very confident that we will let these guys make a firm decision,” Hardwick said.
“There will be some understanding of what it will look like at the contract level and then we will make that informed decision tomorrow (Tuesday).
Hardwick would not directly discuss the Giants weapon in Taranto, but confirmed that the Tigers would seek to work out a deal to bring Hopper to Punt Road.
“We need to improve our roster, like most clubs, and we will be on the market trying to improve it as much as possible,” Hardwick said.