Richmond, Dustin Martin, Private Vacation, Break, Father’s Death, Damien Hardwick

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has refused to put any pressure on Dustin Martin to stay in the foot-crazy Victoria and has even said he has the blessings.

Speculation over whether Martin will stay in Richmond was further intensified in Victoria when he took a personal leave after the first round of the season.

Martin took a leave of absence as he mourned the death of his father, whom he lost last December, and has played two AFL games since superstar Tiger returned from a six-week break.

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On Tuesday, Hardwick was asked about the possibility of Martin ending his great 263-match career interstate.

“He’s a very important player for our football club, both on and off the field,” said Hardwick.

“What he gave us, he gave 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, is incredible, and what we get from here is a bonus.

“I’m lucky to see him perform on a weekly basis and have been trained the way he does.”

Martin scored two goals from 23 touchdowns in his comeback game against Collingwood and three majors from 20 assists against Hawthorne on Saturday.

The three-time Norm Smith medalist also competed for the best goal of the year to win against the Hawks.

Richmond will shoot for three consecutive wins in his dreamtime in the ‘G clash with Ascendon on Saturday.

“He suffered a bit last week. He never raised his hand to say he was a bit weak,” Hardwick said.

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

Dusty Martin kicks in a wonderful goal

Hardwick said he was not surprised by the impressive fashion Martin returned from his break.

Hardwick said, “The way this guy prepares physically and mentally is first class. The greats do that.”

“It’s no coincidence that what he does is rewarded with his field performance.

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

“We use him as an example for our young blocks. ‘Listen, do you want to reach that level? First of all, good luck. But that’s how you go about it.'”

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